Allocated the somewhat wide barrier 9 in a field of just thirteen, trainer Phillip Stokes has been pleased with the continually building form and class of Éclair Big Bang this time in, but concedes he is unsure where the horse fits into pecking order amongst the talented list confirmed for Saturday’s Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot Racecourse.
Claiming a total of five race wins and two minor places from just eleven competitive appearances so far, Éclair Big Bang won the Jacobs Creek Handicap (1100m) first-up on September 28th, and while unlucky to be blocked for a run early in the final straight when third in the Listed ITalkTravel Stakes (1200m) on October 15th, returned to the winner’s circle in the Emirates Airline Handicap (1400m) at Flemington on Stakes Day.
Confident leading South Australian-based jockey Dom Tourneur will again get the best from the Savabeel gelding on Saturday, Stokes told The Advertiser he is yet to settle on a plan to overcome barrier 9 in the 2014 Winterbottom Stakes.
“It’s a little bit of a tricky barrier, but we’ll work that out and he’ll be thereabouts,” Stokes said.
“He showed the other day he’s a little bit more versatile now his mindset is better.
“Last prep he was more worried about the horses around him. Now he seems to be in a lot better frame of mind; more mature.
“It’s a hard enough race but we’ll get a good idea where his level is at.
“Horses like Moment Of Change have been racing at the top level against horses like Lankan Rupee while we haven’t.
“He probably hasn’t had the ideal prep having to go from 1400m back to 1200m but we’ve trained him accordingly.
“If he can run first four I’ll be pretty happy and he’ll take a lot of out of the trip mentally which will help him next year.”
Arguably finding career-best form over the 2014 Australian racing calendar, Éclair Big Bang finished fourth in both the Listed Redelva Stakes (1050m) and Group 2 Euclase Stakes (1200m) over a short autumn and winter preparation.
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