Philippi ready for Alister Clark

Mar 13, 2013

Mick Kent has always wanted to see Philippi run over 2000 metres and he gets his chance this Friday night, when he contests the Group 2 Sportingbet Alister Clark Stakes (2040m).

The son of Host is a headline act of a small-but-select seven-horse feature of a premium Moonee Valley night card.

Philippi won the Listed UCI Stakes at Flemington over 1800 metres on Turnbull Stakes Day, but Kent felt that the colt was not ready to continue onto the VRC Derby and sent him to the paddock instead.

“I've always thought that 2000 metres would be a trip that would really suit him so I'm looking forward to him going there on Friday night,” Kent said.

After a good first-up run when fourth in the C.S. Hayes Stakes at Flemington, Kent had viewed the Group 1 Australian Guineas as a race for second, behind star three-year-old All Too Hard.

However, his Saturday morning changed dramatically that day, when long odds-on favourite All Too Hard was withdrawn and suddenly Kent had two serious winning chances in Philippi and High Shot.

'”I had been very relaxed going into it with no pressure on us and then All Too Hard came out and I went from one cigarette an hour to four,” joked Kent.

Unfortunately the absence of All Too Hard did not result in a win for either of Kent's horses.

High Shot could not finish the race off after being ridden closer to the speed, while Philippi ended up in an awkward position back along the inside and after being ridden for luck in the straight got little, before running well to finish sixth.

“Under the circumstances he (Philippi) ran well but I was very disappointed with the result,” he said.

From barrier six, Kent said the pre race plan had been to settle behind the race favourite Albrecht but with plenty of crowding in the early stages, Philippi had been forced further back than expected along the inside.

“Initially it looked good but then the speed came from the outside and bang, bang we just got pushed back on the inside,” Kent said.

In the Alister Clark, a race Kent won two years ago with Domesky, Philippi has drawn the outside gate, but on a track that can prove tricky for many horses, he does have the advantage of one run at the track for a win over 1500m.

“He goes well around there and I think it is a track that suits a horse like him because it has a testing uphill finish,” he said.

With Peter Moody not having a runner in the race Kent has taken the opportunity to book Luke Nolen, who partnered Philippi in his first two wins, for the Alister Clark ride.

Among Philippi’s Alister Clark rivals are Sheer Talent, Hvasstan and Bass Strait, who finishing third, fourth and fifth respectively in the Guineas.

The Alister Clark is the highlight of a card that also features a pair of $120,000 Listed events over 1200m – the Alternate Railway St Albans Stakes for the two-year-olds and the Adapt Australia Abell Stakes – along with the penultimate heat of the Essendon Mazda 55 Second Challenge (955m).

As for High Shot, Kent is unsure what path he will take to the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) with the colt, who is an acceptor in Sydney this weekend.

“I've accepted with him in the Randwick Guineas but it is a hot field, the 1600 metres is not really his trip and I don't think Warwick Farm is his track,” he said.

The trainer is looking for a wet surface in Sydney and if those conditions do not occur he said he might wait to run High Shot in a 1700m race at Caulfield on Saturday week, before heading to the Derby via the Tulloch Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on Golden Slipper Day.

by Andrew Garvey, Racing Victoria