Phillip Stokes’ confidence in Climbing Star

There is an air of positivity around an often-understated Phillip Stokes as he sends Climbing Star to Morphettville this weekend in search of an elusive second career victory.

The four-year-old lines up in the Listed Matrice Stakes (1200m) on Saturday at her first-up outing for this preparation which Stokes hopes will be crowned by races like the Group 1 Robert Sangster Stakes (1200m) in late April.

Having competed at black-type level through her springtime campaign last year, the daughter of Zoustar finished second in the Group 3 Moonga Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield, followed by a fifth placing behind Foxy Frida in the Inglis Bracelet (1600m) at Flemington on November 9.

However, the experiment over longer trips is over with Stokes’ focus now on the shorter distances for the mare who broke her maiden on debut at Cranbourne back in September 2022 over 1200-metres.

“She’s going super,” Stokes said.

“I’m very happy with her this prep and we’re going to keep her to the sprinting trips.”

To be ridden by Lachlan Neindorf, Pakenham-based Stokes can also continue what has become a strong trainer and jockey association.

Sixteen of Neindorf’s last 100 rides have been for Stokes with the pair running at a 37.5% winning strike-rate and 62.5% for the minor money.

“We’ll ride her with cover,” Stokes added.

“She’s been racing up to a good level but hasn’t won and I think she’s very well-placed in that race.”

Climbing Star has firmed into $9.50 with online bookmakers from Wednesday’s opening price of $12 across markets.

The Peter Moody and Katherine Coleman-trained Nunthorpe holds favouritism for the Matrice Stakes at $3.20.

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