Plans in place of promising pair
Two lightly raced horses who made a big impression at The Valley at the start of the new season have prompted connections to set their sights on some higher-profile targets during the spring carnival.
Hard Landing (All Too Hard), the Maribyrnong Plate (Gr 3, 1000m) winner last November, was expected to be a major player in the big two-year-old races but the well-bred colt’s campaign was derailed after contracting an illness.
He returned from a long spell with a victory in the Jockey Celebration Day Handicap (1000m) and, two races later, the Jason Warren-trained Brooklyn Hustle (Starspangledbanner) caught the eye with a fast-finishing win in the Remembering Mark Goring and Adrian Ledger Handicap (1000m).
Hard Landing's victory gave co-trainer Ben Hayes the confidence to put the Mitchell McKenzie Stakes (Listed, 1200m) at Moonee Valley on August 22 on the colt’s agenda.
"He's a lightly raced two-year-old because he got really sick after his last run," Hayes said.
"He had to have a big dose of antibiotics and we really looked after him. But he's come back fantastic, he's matured into himself, grown up over the hind. It's fantastic to see him win like that.
"He looked like he handled The Valley pretty well today so (the McKenzie Stakes) will be his next progression."
Brooklyn Hustle had not raced since last year’s Coolmore Stud Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) at Flemington where she finished fifth, four and a quarter lengths behind Exceedance (Exceed And Excel).
Warren, trainer of Brooklyn Hustle, who had not won in five starts after her debut performance at Moonee Valley when beating subsequent Everest winner Yes Yes Yes (Rubick), indicated that the filly would have her next start in the next three or four weeks.
Longer term targets could include The A J Moir Stakes (Gr 1, 1000m) and Manikato Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m), both Group 1s run at The Valley.
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