Cox Plate or Caulfield Cup?
That is the spring dilemma facing Volkstok’n’barrell’s trainers Chris Gibbs and Donna Logan who hope to have a clearer picture of where the four-year-old is headed after he runs at Caulfield on Saturday.
Volkstok’n’barrell has drawn barrier seven in the 12-horse field for the Group One Underwood Stakes (1800m), a line up headed by Makybe Diva Stakes winner Fawkner and Godolphin’s Contributer.
Gibbs had hoped to have Volkstok’n’barrell’s program set in stone after the Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington on September 12 but that didn’t happen after a luckless performance that raised more questions than it answered.
The gelding was held up for a run in the straight and finished last, less than four lengths from the winner Fawkner.
“I know we’re good enough to be here, it’s just a matter of seeing him do it,” Gibbs said.
“His first-up run was very good and his last run, we learnt nothing.
“We thought we would be able to make a decision in which direction we would head after the last run but it just wasn’t to be.
“We’ve really got to wait until Saturday and set some plans in place.”
A Rosehill Guineas winner over 2000m in the autumn, Volkstok’n’barrell finished third behind Mongolian Khan and Hauraki in the ATC Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick.
Gibbs says even though Volkstok’n’barrell isn’t bred to run 2400m he thinks the gelding’s relaxed nature will help him get the trip.
“He doesn’t know how he’s bred,” Gibbs said.
“He’s just a very, very relaxed, good-winded horse that would get the mile-and-a-half if we decided to go that way.”
Craig Williams rode Volkstok’n’barrell in a workout on Tuesday morning and wasn’t out to break the clock.
Gibbs says two races and recent trackwork has improved the gelding’s fitness levels and he is expecting a forward run on Saturday.
“We’re there to have a crack at this one,” Gibbs said.
“We need to pick up some money so we’d like to get some of it if we can.”
Volkstok’n’barrell is a $14 chance in early Underwood Stakes betting with Fawkner heading the market at $3.60 ahead of Contributer at $4 with Tasmanian galloper The Cleaner next pick at $7.