Hugh Bowman has picked up the ride on Illustrious Lad in the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley, a race which features seven Group One winners among the 25 nominations.
Friday night’s weight-for-age sprint is Melbourne’s final Group One race for the season and the entries include last year’s winner Flamberge and Rebel Dane who won the Group One Manikato Stakes at the track in October.
Fellow Group One winners Sheidel, The Quarterback, Japonisme, I Am A Star and Dal Cielo are also nominated while the early $5 favourites in the Luxbet’s pre-post market are Spieth and Star Turn who are both still chasing an elusive Group One win.
Illustrious Lad’s regular rider Anthony Darmanin was suspended for careless riding in Sunday’s Yarra Valley Cup with trainer Peter Gelagotis snapping up Bowman.
The Robbie Griffiths-trained The Quarterback was scratched from his planned first-up run in the Lightning Stakes when he became cast in the barriers.
It meant the gelding had to go first-up into his Newmarket Handicap defence in which he finished 10th.
“Froggy (jockey Craig Newitt) thought he felt as good as he did last year and thought he would have been competitive had the track had played fairly,” Griffiths said.
“We’ll never know … but we think he ran OK and he looked pretty strong on the line so I was happy with it.
“You’d prefer him to have run in the top three and not have to make any guesses, but I think he was all right and we’ll head to The Valley.
“At The Valley he’s a bit vulnerable but we didn’t really want to go to Sydney.
“He’s never really showed a real liking for soft ground at that level of competition.”
After the William Reid, connections have pencilled in the VOBIS Gold Sprint in April and the Group One Goodwood (1200m) in May for The Quarterback, the same races he contested last year.
“Last year we’d had two runs before the Newmarket, then the William Reid was his fourth run and he ended up having six starts for the preparation,” Griffiths said.
“That’s probably two too many. About four is what he can do.”