Australia Stakes 2016 option for Durendal

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The transition to weight-for-age is the likely next step for Standish Handicap winner Durendal who capped a big New Year’s Day for the in-form Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra stable.

Durendal’s victory in Friday’s 1200m-Group Three sprint at Flemington brought up four winners at the meeting for the training partnership and they added another in the opening race on Saturday at Moonee Valley with Heatherly.

Ellerton said Durendal would spend time at owner David Moodie’s property until next week before his next step was locked in.

“He’s going to have eight or nine days up at David’s and we’ve just got to re-assess where we go with him. He’s had a bit of racing and he’s certainly not suffering from it,” Ellerton told radio station RSN.

“We’ll get him back down to Flemington next week and figure out where we head with him.

“He may well take his place in the Australia Stakes. That’s a whole new ball game at weight-for-age for him.”

The Australia Stakes is on January 23 at Moonee Valley.

Fellow four-year-old gelding Rough Justice made it two wins from as many starts this campaign with victory over 1000m on Friday.

The Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m) at Flemington at the end of the month is a target with his lead-up slated for Saturday week over the same course and distance in an open handicap.

Rough Justice had to bide his time between his first and second starts of the campaign with six weeks between the gelding’s Moonee Valley win in November and his New Year’s Day victory.

He was scheduled to run on December 19 at Flemington but the races were called off because of extreme heat.

Rough Justice’s two wins this campaign have earned him a step up to open company.

“He’s like Durendal, you throw out the challenge and he keeps going,” Zahra said.


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