|Star galloper Northerly looks certain to attempt
to emulate his Yalumba Stakes victory at Caulfield last spring when he runs in tomorrow's
$201,000 Carlton Draught St. George Stakes (1800m).
Fred Kersley is keen for champion jockey Damien Oliver to take advantage of his inside
barrier and attempt to lead the field.
"It could be an idea to take advantage of the inside
barrier and work up toward the lead but of course that will all lie in the hands of
Damien," Kersley said today.
"There's no reason he can't do what he did in the
Yalumba (Stakes) here back in the spring and lead throughout."
Kersley did say the star gelding had been beaten "a
couple of times" from the inside barrier after not working to the head of the field.
"The times he's been beaten when jumping from
the inside came about because he got buried three back on the fence and often got shuffled
back and lost ground," he said.
"So I have no problems at all with leading in the race
tomorrow," Kersley added.
The Northerly camp looked relaxed at today's pre-race press
conference at Caulfield and both Kersley and his wife and part owner Judy seemed quietly
"He's done very well since his first up run. I'm
pleased with his progress since the Orr Stakes and I feel he is right on target for
tomorrow," Kersley reported.
"As it's been widely reported everything went wrong
the other day and he's come out of it in pretty good shape. Apart from a few abrasions and
the like he is fine."
Should Northerly not work to the front
of the field Kersley is expecting his champion to "race in a forward position."
Oliver didn't seem quite as certain as to Northerly being
able to lead in tomorrow's showdown with Ethereal and Old Comrade.
"He just seemed a bit dour the other day in the Orr.
He wasn't as well away from the barriers as he is normally and he got further back in the
race than what I was hoping," Oliver said.
"I'm certainly hoping he can ping a bit more tomorrow
and with the extra distance he might be able to take a better sit."
While admitting the horse did get further back than he had
earlier planned Oliver said he was a little disappointed the gelding wasn't able to make
as much ground on the eventual race winner.
"We weren't able to really get up to Barkada
and apply any sort of pressure," he said.
Oliver (pictured left after winning the Yalumba aboard
Northerly) said tomorrow's race is going to be a lot more different than his first up
effort in the Orr Stakes when placed behind Barkada.
"Tomorrow is a different kettle of fish," he
said. "The St. George looks a lovely race and the distance seems ideal, 1800 metres
should be perfect."
Meanwhile, Kersley added the next two starts of Northerly
(tomorrow and the Group One Australian Cup) would decide whether a trip to Dubai would
still be on the agenda.
"The travelling problem about getting there is
certainly not ideal. After Saturday we might be able to make a more firm decision but we
are still keen to tackle a feature race there (Dubai)," Kersley said.
PICS - Quentin