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Southern stars prepare for winter campaign

By Andrew Adermann

Two of the nation’s star gallopers, Celestial Falls and Blazejowski, are confirmed starters in Queensland following last week’s revised winter program announcement.

Three-year-old filly Celestial Falls hasn’t been seen on the track since last October where she ran a gallant third place in the Group 3 Ethereal Stakes at Caulfield.

Post-race she was found to have an elevated temperature, and more bad luck followed after a paddock accident put a halt to her spring and autumn campaigns.

The promising youngster was on track for a Kennedy Oaks last spring, taking out the $60,000 Oaks Trial, and now trainer Mark Newnham is looking to make up for lost time with a trip north.

“She had very good form in the spring and she got sick after running third in the Ethereal in Melbourne and that put a stop to her Oaks preparation down there - I thought she was a really good chance in the Oaks,” Newnham said.

“While she was spelling in Melbourne she had a paddock accident so that meant she needed a lengthy spell and missed the Autumn here (Sydney).

“The Queensland Oaks was always our plan, but now that it’s not there it will be more a revised plan and something toward the Doomben Roses.

“She could have two or three runs up there, we may look at the new Pam O’Neill, the Rough Habit Plate and the Roses.”

Based at Newnham’s Warwick Farm stables in Sydney, the plan is to get a few runs under the belt down south before making the trip to Queensland – the first of those runs could be as soon as this weekend.

“She may run first up in the Hawkesbury this Saturday, and then we’ll work out where to go from there – but she’s likely to have a couple runs in Sydney before she heads up to Queensland,” Newnham said.

“She’s above average at a mile plus and a half-sister to Greysful Glamour, so I think as a four-year-old in mare company she’s going to be Group standard.

“She’s only had a very short grounding at this stage but she’s got above average ability.”

Despite Newnham’s initial winter plans being turned upside-down by the COVID-19 pandemic, he still remains optimistic that he can achieve success with Celestial Falls and is thankful to be racing period.

“It’s still important that you achieve a bit of black-type with these fillies, and they’re only three once so we need to do the best we can under a revised program,” he said.

“No one is complaining because there are so many industries that can’t go to work at all, so we’re thankful that we’re racing and whatever is on offer is what’s on offer.

“The alternative is we’re not racing and that’s not a good alternative so there’s no regret there that the races aren’t worth what they were advertised at so long as we can still race.”

In another coup for the revised winter program, Greg Eurell has confirmed his Stradbroke Handicap ambitions for star Melbourne sprinter Blazejowski.

The five-year-old grey is coming off the back of a stellar summer campaign, notching up two wins from three starts, including the Group 3 Shaftesbury Avenue Stakes.

His trainer maintains that the Brisbane winter was always the goal for the lightly raced gelding, and despite COVID-19 restrictions, nothing has changed.

“It had been a thought when he first came in early this year with the way he was going and he was certainly giving us every indication that he would improve on the prep before,” Eurell said.

“He had three runs this time in and won two of them so it gave us the confidence to come up and go to a Stradbroke – that’s the target race.

“Either way the lead up can either happen down here or up in Brisbane, you look at the Victory Stakes on the 23rd of May as a nice little lead up race – the timing still works out okay with us.

“He only has to do what he did here (Melbourne) to think that he’ll run well up in Brisbane.”

It’s fair to say that Eurell, who trained one of the country’s greatest sprinters in Apache Cat, knows what to look for in a horse, and he sees some serious potential in Blazejowski.

“He’s a good horse to work with, he’s very relaxed and very sensible – a great horse to work and what you see is what you get,” he said.

“If he’s working well on the track he always performs well and he’s a terrific horse to travel with because he has a great attitude anywhere he goes.

“It’ll be interesting, each prep he’s come in he’s stepped up a run.

“Coming up to Brisbane and depending on what kind of result we get up there, we’ll give him a let up and probably get fair dinkum into the Melbourne spring and target a few really nice races.”