Gold on trial for Brisbane trip

A Group Three mission in Brisbane awaits stakeswinner Welkom Gold if he can make it back-to-back wins at Rosehill on Saturday.

Trainer Darren Smith was looking for a confidence-boosting victory from the six-year-old in Sydney and got that last start when Welkom Gold scored over 1200m at Rosehill on October 30.

The Listed winner has been installed as $3.20 favourite for Saturday’s Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Moscato Handicap (1200m) just ahead of the resuming Skytrain ($3.40) with Ego’s Dare at $3.60.

“If he wins again on Saturday there’s a Group Three in Brisbane he’ll go to for his next start,” Smith said.

The George Moore Stakes (1200m) is run at Eagle Farm on December 4 and is also being considered by Peter Snowden for Skytrain pending his performance on Saturday.

“It’s been our plan to try and get to that race (in Brisbane),” Smith said.

“We were thinking of putting him on a float to go to Melbourne but we opted to stay in Sydney for two runs and see how he goes.”

Welkom Gold, winner of the Listed Maurice McCarten Stakes (1100m) in the autumn, was third first-up in the 900m Hurricane Quality at Newcastle and then seventh in the Listed Lightning Handicap (1100m) at Randwick before winning at Rosehill.

“He’s the same as he was last time and his work has been strong,” Smith said.

“I think this is a harder race than last start, but in saying that there should be genuine speed.”

Keen Commander and Welkom Gold engaged in a speed battle in the Lightning Handicap with Keen Commander weakening to 12th.

The Smith-trained sprinter was able to take a sit off leader Dissolved at Rosehill last start and it helped him to run out the 1200m strongly in his 1-3/4 length win.

Smith said he would be endeavouring to take a sit again on Saturday.

“But who knows, Keen Commander might look to take a sit too,” he said.

Keen Commander’s trainer Denise McGrath is also hoping to avoid another speed battle as her charge looks to improve on a poor record at 1200m.

The Group One-placed sprinter has won eight of his 29 starts but has never won in five attempts at 1200m.

McGrath has been trying to get the free-running galloper more settled in his work and she believes running 1200m would open more options for him.

“I’m happy with him but it’s a little bit of a concern that he’s never done much over 1200 metres,” McGrath said.

“I’m not too happy I’ve had to put him over 1200 but by the same token there are very few races for this horse at this time.”

Keen Commander returned from a year-long layoff and shouldered 60.5kg to win over 1000m at Warwick Farm on October 4.

McGrath believes Keen Commander must have wrenched a hock at the start of the Lightning last start, and he has been given four weeks between runs into Saturday’s race.