Verdad to take improvement into 2024 Australian Guineas

Trainers Robbie Griffiths and Mathew de Kock could not have been happier with the return performance of Verdad and are looking for an equally solid performance in the Australian Guineas.

Verdad resumed in the Group 3 C S Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on February 17 chasing home Riff Rocket and King Colorado, two opponents in Saturday’s Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday.

Griffiths said Verdad had an interrupted preparation leading into that first-up outing as he was due to resume in the Manfred Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on Australia Day.

“Mat and I were rapt with Verdad because he had a little interruption going into his first-up run, so we think he is going to take more improvement out of that than say King Colorado,” Griffiths said.

“It (King Colorado) had already had that nice run (under his belt), but Riff Rocket was outstanding, while our guy had a nice healthy blow and he’s come on really well since the run.

“He’ll have his firmest gallop for the week on Monday morning and we think he will line up in really good order in the Group 1.

“We just hope we can turn the tables around on Riff Rocket and King Colorado.”

Griffiths said the three-year-old crop of colts and geldings looks very strong this year.

He said Saturday’s race could come down to luck in running.

“It’s a question of who comes on from now and who draws where and how the speed maps look, but we’re certainly in the game,” Griffiths said.

Verdad made a huge leap in his first campaign, winning a maiden on debut at Bendigo before running second in the Stutt Stakes at Moonee Valley behind Caulfield Guineas winner Griff.

The gelding eventually progressed to the Victoria Derby (2500m), running fifth, although Griffiths said the gelding failed to see out the trip.

“Jye McNeil said he wouldn’t rule it out (a trip), but he said he lacked maturity,” Griffiths said.

“He said even though he was in a nice position, he never relaxed in his hands.

“He was on the bridle the whole way and you can’t win a staying race unless you relax, especially in your first racing preparation.

“As it turned out he probably would have been better going to the 1800-metre race on Oaks Day, but there’s a big difference between a Listed race and a $2 million Derby.

“Jye was pretty adamant that if he had of relaxed, he would have given it a shake.”

Griffiths sees 2000m as potentially being a nice trip for Verdad.

“His mum was quite a performer over 1200 and 1400 metres, so there’s a bit of speed from the Magnus side and with the stamina of Justify, he might develop into a good 10-furlong horse,” Griffiths said.

“We really didn’t want to go into the Guineas second-up, but he’s cleaned really well from that run and his second-up run in the Stutt Stakes after his maiden win was very good.

“We think that he can do it.”

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