Connections of Night’s Watch hope the decision to bypass the Turnbull Stakes with the gelding will be rewarded with a Group One win in the Toorak Handicap at Caulfield.
The Chris Waller-trained Night’s Watch was taken to Caulfield early on Tuesday morning and turned in a sharp gallop over 1000m in company with his younger stablemate, Caulfield Guineas contender Kubrick.
Waller’s racing manager Charlie Duckworth oversaw the work and believes the decision to head to Saturday’s Toorak (1600m) rather than last weekend’s Group One Turnbull- in which the stable had the quinella with Kings Will Dream and Finche – will prove the right call.
“The initial plan was the Turnbull but we just felt he didn’t need to step up to 2000 metres yet,” Duckworth said.
“He’s sharp and a lot of his best form is actually over 1400 metres and a mile and I don’t think he really needs the 2000.
“If his work this morning is anything to go by I think it’s the right call to wait for the Toorak.
“No Group One is easy but we’re hopeful that he’s going to be a genuine winning chance and justify us waiting that extra week.”
Night’s Watch was an unlucky fifth over the Caulfield 1400m in his spring return on August 31 behind Toorak favourite Age Of Chivalry.
He ran well again when midfield in the Group One Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) last start after getting back from the widest barrier.
Madison County and So Si Bon head the Toorak weights with 58kg while Night’s Watch, to be ridden by James McDonald, has 56kg and will be joined in the race by stablemate Tom Melbourne (55.5kg).
Tom Melbourne was well beaten first-up in the Theo Marks Stakes before a third in the Shannon Stakes (1500m).
“First-up he was really disappointing and we couldn’t really make many excuses for it,” Duckworth said.
“We just had to put a line through it but the other day he was back to his level best.
“He’s not a Group One weight-for-age horse but he probably is a Group One handicap horse.
“He always needs a little bit of a canny ride to go and win on him but changing things up and float trips away I think actually helps him because it keeps him fresh and keeps him thinking.”