Group One weight-for-age races in Melbourne are on the radar for three-year-old Kumaon who makes his return in a benchmark race at Flemington.
The colt from the Godolphin team was Group One-placed as a two-year-old and finished fourth in the Caulfield Guineas during the spring before failing over 2000m in the Caulfield Classic.
The CF Orr Stakes on February 14 and Futurity Stakes two weeks later, both over 1400m at Caulfield, are being strongly considered by trainer John O’Shea for the colt this campaign.
Kumaon spelled in Victoria after the spring and has been preparing for his return at Godolphin’s Flemington base.
He runs in a benchmark 90 over 1200m on Saturday with a view to getting his chance at Group One level again if he performs to expectations.
“John is not quite sure if he runs out a really strong mile,” Godolphin stable representative Jason Walsh said.
“So the Australian Guineas (over 1600m) is definitely still on the table for him but there’s a couple of 1400-metre Group Ones including the Orr and we may look to give him a chance in a race like that.
“(The CF Orr and the Futurity Stakes) are both races that we have certainly still got on the table for him.”
Kumaon has been knocking on the door of a feature win but his only victory to date has been in a two-year-old Plate at Rosehill on debut in December 2013.
He placed in the Group One Champagne Stakes and Group Two Pago Pago Stakes during his juvenile season and also in the Group Three Run To The Rose and Group Two Bill Stutt Stakes during the spring.
“He has been around the mark without getting that Group race win yet. He was fourth in a Caulfield Guineas and to finish about a length from two very good colts (in Shooting To Win and Rich Enuff) suggests he’s got the right sort of ability,” Walsh said.
Walsh said Jamie Mott would take the ride on Kumaon on Saturday, with the colt allotted 57.5kg in the sprint race against older horses.
“He’s certainly forward enough to run well and he would need to with the plans we’ve got for him,” Walsh said.