Coniston Bluebird ready to fly
New Zealand Derby winner Coniston Bluebird is back in work preparing for a tilt at the major spring races and perhaps a few more overseas.
Trainer Bede Murray said Coniston Bluebird would be inoculated in the next week or so with Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai among the destinations on the horizon.
The Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup are foremost in Murray’s mind but the experience of taking Coniston Bluebird to Auckland has given him confidence in the horse’s ability to cope with travel.
"He proved he can be a travelling horse and that gives me the confidence to try again," Murray said.
"But there are a few races at home we’d like to get out of the way first."
A likely starting point is the Warwick Stakes (1400m) on August 22.
Earlier this year, Murray and his fellow owners made the decision to sacrifice a stud career for Coniston Bluebird and had him gelded.
He is by the late Scenic, sire of last year’s 2008 Melbourne Cup winner Viewed as was Murray’s star performer of a few years ago, Universal Prince.
The withdrawal of pre-post favourite Universal Prince from the 2001 Melbourne Cup is a memory Murray hopes can be erased by Coniston Bluebird.
Universal Prince was controversially ordered out on race morning by Racing Victoria veterinary stewards who deemed the AJC Australian Derby winner to be lame.
The horse went on to claim the Ranvet Stakes the following autumn and now stands at stud in Western Australia as an able replacement for his own sire.
Predatory Pricer, who is trained by Murray’s son Paul, is also back in work and will do all his spring racing in Melbourne.
His autumn ended with fourth in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes following his close third in the AJC Australian Derby in which Coniston Bluebird was 12th, six lengths from the winner Roman Emperor.
On reflection, Murray was not too unhappy with Coniston Bluebird’s effort.
"I’ve watched the race since and he didn’t have much luck," he said.
"Things happen, he wasn’t beaten that far and in hindsight the run wasn’t too bad.
"I’m looking forward to the spring and it would be nice if Coniston Bluebird and Predatory Pricer met in the Cox Plate and fought out the finish."
By Caryl Williamson