The Australian spring ambitions for English-trained runner Blair House will be decided after he runs in Sunday’s G1 Underwood Stakes at Caulfield.
In a race that has brought together a multi-national field of genuine 2000m horses and stayers warming up for longer races, Blair House is firmly in the former group.
“This is an important race for Blair House,” said trainer Charlie Appleby.
“It will determine what path he takes in Melbourne for the rest of the Spring Carnival.”
One of those options could be the G1 Caulfield Cup over 2400m, but a selection of other attractive possibilities is also available at the Underwood distance of 2000m.
Blair House raced in the best form of his career in Dubai earlier this year where he won two races and was second in two others.
He will be having his first start on Saturday since finishing down the track behind fellow Godolphin runner Benbatl in the G1 Dubai Turf at Meydan on World Cup night, having beaten the same horse into second place at his previous run.
Blair House has been in Australia for three weeks, along with his stablemate Jungle Cat, the winner last weekend of the G1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.
“He is a winner of the G1 Jebel Hatta at Meydan, and I think the Australian style of racing will suit him. He travelled over fine and has settled in well,” Appleby said.
“The Underwood is a tough first assignment, but we will know where we stand after he has run in it.”
James McDonald has been booked to ride Godolphin’s Blair House in Sunday’s G1 Underwood Stakes at Caulfield in Melbourne.
McDonald takes over from William Buick and James Doyle, the stable’s two retained jockeys, who shared riding the gelding in Dubai earlier in the year.
Doyle had the better record on Blair House — he was two wins from two rides, including the G1 Jebel Hatta, over 1,800m, at Meydan.
Trainer Charlie Appleby confirmed the riding arrangements on his arrival back in the UK from a successful raid on last weekend’s Caulfield meeting.
“James McDonald will ride Blair House in the Underwood on Sunday. James has ridden for us before — and Blair House is reportedly in fine form following his final piece of serious work at Werribee on Saturday morning,”
Appleby believes Blair House has the progressive profile to make his mark at this Melbourne Spring Carnival.