Racing: Xtravagant set to pluck juicy plums in Melbourne

Xtravagant wins the NRM Sprint 13 February 2016. Photo / Trish Dunell
Xtravagant wins the NRM Sprint 13 February 2016. Photo / Trish Dunell

Cox Plate contender Xtravagant is booked on a flight to Melbourne tomorrow week.

"He'll be staying at Flemington and he will trial at Caulfield on August 9 and after that we will decide where he will kick off," said Stephen Autridge, who trains the rising 4-year-old with Jamie Richards.

A return to Caulfield on August 27 for the Heath Stakes, a race won last year by former Matamata-trained mare Bounding, over 1100m is one option to begin Xtravagant's spring preparation.

"He's come back really well after a break and all our riders who have been on him are saying he's much stronger now," Autridge said.

"The main objectives after a run or two will be the group ones at the carnival and a crack at the Cox Plate."

Xtravagant has enjoyed a memorable season highlighted by his victory in the New Zealand 2000 Guineas and his eight-length drubbing of his older rivals in the NRM Sprint.

The son of Pentire, who also won the Cambridge Breeders' Stakes, features strongly in the New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards as a finalist in the champion 3-year-old and sprint divisions.

Xtravagant's stablemate Shillelagh has also been pencilled in for a Melbourne campaign. "We're going to send her over a week later to give the colt time to settle in before she turns up," Autridge said.

Fellow Waikato rising 4-year-old Sofia Rosa will race exclusively in group one company this spring.

Trainer Stephen Marsh has outlined plans for a four-race Melbourne campaign for his Australian Oaks winner.

"She'll fly to Melbourne where she'll stay at Russell Cameron's at Flemington and she'll run fresh-up in the Memsie Stakes," Marsh said.

"Obviously, there's a lot of water to go under the bridge but all going well, she'll then go to the Makybe Diva Stakes, Turnbull Stakes and the Caulfield Cup."

Marsh said Sofia Rosa had spelled exceptionally well and he was confident of a bold first-up showing from the daughter of Makfi.

"Without doubt she's strengthened up, she's still got a little bit of furnishing to do, but she looks a lot better than she did in the autumn," he said. "I think she's going to run a boomer in the Memsie over 1400m."

- NZ Racing Desk.

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