Giga set to Kick off at The Valley in McEwen Stakes

The horse that put young trainer Clayton Douglas on the map is set to have the first start of his campaign in defence of his Everest title.

Giga Kick resumes in the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday in what shapes as the sprinters only Melbourne appearance before the $20 million The Everest (1200m) at Randwick next month.

Douglas took Giga Kick to The Valley on Tuesday morning for a look at the track with regular rider Craig Williams in the saddle.

“He had a nice stride around and got around the track nicely,” Douglas said.

“He’s probably 30 kilos heavier for his first-up run (than last year), but he’s obviously a four-year-old now and has developed quite a bit.

“There’s still a bit of juice in the tank for his next couple of runs but he’s ready to go.

“He’s had the two trials, that have been very impressive, and the 1000 metres around here with the speed on should really suit him.”

Only nine horses were nominated for the race when entries closed on Monday and Douglas said that if Giga Kick was to be vulnerable this campaign, then it may be on Saturday.

Douglas is not treating Saturday’s opposition lightly with Rothfire and Zoustyle coming down from Brisbane, while Imperatriz is a Group 1 Manikato Stakes winner with excellent first-up credentials.

“Hopefully he can begin cleanly,” Douglas said.

“It’s been a bit of a thing in the past where he’s been a bit steady away and that’s what probably got him beaten first-up last campaign, he blundered the start.

“Hopefully in the small field, he won’t be too far off them, but as long as he’s got good galloping room, I’m sure he’ll be hitting the line hard.

“If there is a time where he is going to be vulnerable., may be it will be Saturday, but the horse looks like he has improved and is in really good order.

“It’s pretty exciting having a horse like him and I’m looking forward to kicking him off on Saturday.”

With the announcement of the retirements of Nature Strip and Eduardo after racing in Sydney last weekend, the sprinting landscape has changed.

Giga Kick is now at the top of the tree after his win in The Everest last year, but Douglas says this year’s race will be another good edition.

“Buenos Noches has come back in really good order,” Douglas said.

“He’s a horse that you would be thinking that will be taking up a slot at this point.

“All the horses seem to have come on and improved.

“Then on Saturday we’re meeting Imperatriz on Saturday, a horse that has won a Manikato, so you have to respect your opposition.

“It’s going to be a small field, but one full of quality on Saturday, very intriguing, and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

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