Comeback delayed for Court Command
Trainer Liam Birchley will delay the comeback of multiple Group winner Court Command for another week ahead of an ambitious plan to emulate two of Queensland’s former top Group One-winning sprinters, Daybreak Lover and Innisfree.
Court Command (pictures) has been with Birchley for three months after standing a season at stud and was expected to make his return in the Group Two Sir Byrne Hart Stakes (1200m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
However, Birchley feels the Listed Prime Minister’s Cup (1300m) at the Gold Coast the following week will be a more suitable race for the five-year-old to launch his winter campaign.
“Court Command likes to lead in his races and he won’t get his way in front with Swiss Ace likely to run in the Sir Byrne Hart,” Birchley said.
Court Command was put back into training by his owners after covering 109 mares at Wattle Brae stud on Queensland’s Darling Downs.
“He had a year at stud but his owners wanted to give him another crack at the winter races between stud seasons,” Birchley said.
Court Command is being aimed at the Group One Doomben 10,000 and the Group One Stradbroke Handicap and will be striving to emulate the deeds of Daybreak Lover and Innisfree who returned from stud duties to win at the elite level more than 20 years ago.
Daybreak Lover won both the 1984 and 1986 Stradbroke Handicaps with his second victory coming after commencing stud duties in 1985.
Innisfree also served a season at stud prior to his Stradbroke Handicap victory in 1978.
As a three-year-old when trained by Darren Smith at Newcastle, Court Command won the Group Three Up and Coming Stakes, Group Three Golden Rose and Group Two Stan Fox Stakes in successive starts in 2006.
He then went to Melbourne where he finished third in the Group One Caulfield Guineas won by Wonderful World.
Birchley couldn’t be happier with Court Command who will be ridden Sydney’s Corey Brown in the Prime Minister’s Cup.
Ken Pope, who celebrated his first Group One victory on Swiss Ace in the Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield in February, will again partner the four-year-old in the Sir Byrne Hart after being granted a stay of proceedings following an appeal against a careless riding suspension.
Meanwhile, Birchley is also pleased with the progress of talented youngster Sarge In Charge who will launch his winter campaign in the Listed Ken Russell Memorial Classic (1200m) at the Gold Coast on Saturday week.
Sarge In Charge has not raced since he was runner-up to The Heckler in the Listed Karaka Million (1200m) at Ellerslie on January 25.
The colt, who is being aimed at the Group Two Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) and Group One TJ Smith (1600m), both at Eagle Farm in June, finished a close second to stablemate Fairchild in an 1100-metre barrier trial at Eagle Farm on Tuesday.
“I’m happy with the way he’s going. He could have won the trial if he had to,” Birchley said.