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01/03/02 Sheila Plays Down Ethereal's St George Chances
r8ethereal2.jpg (11847 bytes)The queen of last year's Melbourne spring carnival Ethereal isn't expected to win the $201,000 St George Stakes at Caulfield tomorrow in the eyes of her trainer Sheila Laxon.

Laxon said today although she was hoping she can win the race, she feels as though the opponents tomorrow will be a "bit nippy."

"To be honest I have my doubts that she can beat Northerly and the others over the distance tomorrow," Laxon said.

Laxon made the big call from a press conference overlooking the track her magnificent mare shot to fame with a narrow Caulfield Cup win in October. The rest is now history and the mare galloped on to take the big Cups double with a stirring Melbourne Cup win at Flemington at her very next start.

Despite playing down her chances in what is being billed as a match race between Ethereal and the Cox Plate champion Northerly, Laxon is still adamant the mare is a better horse this time in.

r7ethereal3.jpg (12889 bytes)"From riding her and what Scott (Seamer) has said we definitely think she is a bigger and strong and hopefully better horse than at her last preparation," Laxon said.

The main reason Laxon was playing down the chances of the Rhythm mare in tomorrow's race is the distance of 1800 metres.

"I just dont think she will be suited at all by the 1800 metres. She is much better over a longer distance and I think she might be giving them too bigger start at the top of the home straight."

Ethereal, who was making some good late ground when unplaced to Sunline when first up, would please her trainer is she "was to run home."

Welsh born Laxon, who's husband Laurie is a leading trainer in Singapore, said her mare was "fairly fresh" and had a "lot more power" than when she was last at Caulfield.

r7seamer&laxon.jpg (16472 bytes)Laxon also said plans for the mare to race in Europe will hinge on "how she runs at her next three starts."

"Peter and Philip (Vela - the owners of Ethereal) feel as though Europe would suit her and they are keen to head there."

"When Dubai was ruled out of the equation they felt a campaign in Europe could be a better option," Laxon said.

One thing is for sure tomorrow and that is that Ethereal will get every chance from her jockey. As has been well documented Seamer is riding in sensational form and he will give Ethereal every possible winning chance against Northerly and company.

PICS - Quentin Lang.

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