A notable performer over just three starts through the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival, trainer Jake Stephens has confirmed talented stayer Gris Caro will make his long-awaited return to racing this spring over a campaign that will include a tilt at the Group 2 Dato’Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 6th.
Winning the Listed Balaklava Cup (1600m0 first-up on September 4th, Gris Caro overcame poor running position to finish second behind Mourinho in the Group 3 JRA Cup (2040m) on September 27th before being unable to figure at all during the running of the Listed Visit Victoria Plate (1800m), finishing a disappointing 8th.
Found to have been suffering from mucous in his trachea following the ill-fated appearance, the With Approval entire was immediately sent to the spelling paddock, missing the remainder of spring and entire 2014 Autumn Carnival.
Confident he has overcome all ailments, Stephens said he is pleased with the condition of Gris Caro leading into the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival, revealing the rising six-year-old has gained weight and matured in his time away from the track.
“It took him a little while to get over it, we had to give him a course of antibiotics and by the time he was feeling well enough to come in it was already too late for an autumn preparation,” Stephens said.
“Having had that long spell, it seems to have cleared up of all the little niggling problems that he did have.
“He’s got a lot more weight on him now that he’s had the year in Australia and he’s a lot bigger and more muscular.
“Last year there was bugger all of him which is typical of a lot of these French imports, but he’d be 30kg heavier than at the same stage last year.”
Yet to confirm a path for Gris Caro through spring, Stephens said he is likely to contest the Listed Penny Edition Stakes (1400m) at South Australia’s Morphettville Racecourse first-up on August 23rd before a likely trip to Melbourne for the Dato’Tan Chin Nam Stakes.
“It’s pretty tough ask at weight-for-age, but he’s obviously showed that he can handle the track in the J.R.A Cup last spring,” Stephens said.
“We’re training him like a sprinter to put a bit more dash into him at the moment so that way he may have a bit more turn of foot over the shorter distances still.
“He the sort of horse that I think 2000m is probably his pet distance, but he also might get a bit further as he settles pretty well.
“He’s already shown a fair bit of ability and the way he’s going at the moment he seems a fair bit better than he was last year.
“With his rating he can go either way, if he doesn’t step up and make the grade at the higher level we can look at those second tier races over the spring as well.”
Securing a total of five wins and as many minor places from just 12 competitive starts so far, Gris Caro began his racing career in France before transferring to the care of Stephens at the conclusion of 2012.
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