The winner of Saturday’s Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) at Flemington will need to run by King Of Hastings first, should co-trainer Sam Freedman’s plans come to fruition.
King Of Hastings returns to Headquarters after closing a nine-month Queensland campaign with victory in the Listed Glasshouse Handicap (1400m) at Sunshine Coast.
The five-year-old gelding the start prior was beaten less than two lengths by Away Game at Eagle Farm in the Group 3 WJ Healy Stakes.
King Of Hastings, who won down the Flemington straight as a three-year-old, disappointed at the track last year as a $2.50 favourite in the Listed Creswick Stakes.
“I remember the race, I think he was favourite, he pulled very hard,” Freedman said.
“We rode him with a bit of cover and he pulled himself into the ground.
“He actually doesn’t quicken all that well, you got to flow with him, put him in the race and he’s a very good defender.
“If you put him on speed and something comes at him he really knuckles down and puts up a fight … I think that’s an asset we’ll try and use on Saturday.”
King Of Hastings winning a race at Flemington in 2019. Picture: AAPSource:News Regional Media
King Of Hastings has firmed steadily since TAB markets opened, shortening from $9.50 to $8.
Freedman, who trains in partnership with father Anthony, will consider the Group 1 Rupert Clarke Stakes as a potential lofty target for the talented and ultra-consistent galloper.
“We’ve never put the bar too high with him,” Freedman said.
“Always wanted to get him winning races and placing him where he’s best placed, now he’s creeping up to that range he’s really going to have to step up to go to that next level.
“He’s got the grounding and perfect preparation to warrant having a crack at the start of this spring and maybe a race like the Rupert Clarke if he was to run really well on Saturday.
“There are heaps of races around for him during the spring … he‘s generally done a fair bit of his racing in the off-season, winter and summer.
“But he’s going to get caught a little bit in the eye of the spring and hopefully he can go up a notch.”
Originally published asKing can reign in return to Flemington
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