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Convinced his horse is looking for more ground, trainer Robert Smerdon withdrew Verdant from the Benalla Cup last Sunday to prepare him for the Group Two Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday.

Verdant has shaped well in two conditioning runs since his 3200m Queensland Cup placing in July and Smerdon says the seven-year-old is ready to return to a staying trip.

“Both runs have been good this preparation,” Smerdon said.

“We decided to miss the Benalla Cup last Sunday and go for the Herbert Power.

“We think he’s ready to go a mile and a half and he’s down to the minimum weight.”

Peter Moody’s entry, the former French entire Kesampour, is on the improve after his second placing in the Group Three Naturalism Stakes behind Mr O’Ceirin at Caulfield last start.

“He’ll be very competitive but typical of European horses he will be better next spring,” Moody said.

The Herbert Power is a lead-up race to the Caulfield Cup but Mick Price’s Bit Of Hell is now being aimed at the rich pickings outside of the metropolitan area.

Bit Of Hell and stablemate Pakal will run in Sunday’s $200,000 Cranbourne Cup followed by the $250,000 Bendigo Cup at the end of the month, which last year was won by Melbourne Cup favourite Puissance De Lune.

“That will just about do them for their spring,” Price said.

“They’ve had solid Australian preps, but they should be better horses in the autumn,” he said.

 
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