Niagara earns Melbourne trip
An easy win in a depleted midweek race at Canterbury has earned Niagara a trip to Melbourne to chase the three-year-old staying riches.
Trainer Gai Waterhouse said Niagara would head to the Group Three Norman Robinson Stakes at Caulfield after he dispatched his three rivals by six lengths to break his maiden status in Wednesday’s Teachers Eyecare Handicap (1550m).
“That’s plan one out of the way and it’s onwards and upwards from here,” Waterhouse said.
“He’ll go down to Melbourne and he’ll probably run in the Norman Robinson next.”
The Norman Robinson is a traditional lead-up race to the Group One Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington for which Niagara is also nominated.
Jockey Nash Rawiller dictated terms in the four-horse field which was decimated by four scratchings, and Niagara ($1.50 fav) started to stretch his advantage from the 800m mark.
The Encosta De Lago colt was full of running around the home turn and Rawiller kept the youngster’s mind on the job all the way to the post.
“He’s very cheeky and he’ll just switch off if you let up on him,” Rawiller told Waterhouse after the race.
“The penny is just starting to drop with him and he’s a horse on the way up.”
Niagara isn’t the only horse headed to Melbourne from Wednesday’s meeting, with the Anthony Cummings-trained Many Stars booking his place in the trainer’s team heading south.
Many Stars, a lightly-raced four-year-old son of Zabeel, scored the second win of his five-start career when racing to a 1-1/4-length success in the Gow Gates Insurance Handicap (1900m).
“He’ll go to Melbourne just for the trip away,” Cummings said.
“He hasn’t got any huge aims down there, he’s still in the Melbourne Cup but I don’t think I’ll do that.
“I just think the trip away and a couple of the minor races down there will be good grounding for him to come back and have a very good autumn.”
Cummings said he would see how Many Stars adapts to the Melbourne way of going before determining his next start.
“We’ve got to see how he copes with the change in direction and things like that before we decide, he’s still very much a learner,” Cummings said.