Star Witness To Bypass Guineas
Star Witness will not contest the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 5 with the former favourite now being readied for sprint features such as the Oakleigh Plate (1100m) and Newmarket Handicap (1200m) according to owner Eric Koundouris.
A one time favourite for the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m), Star Witness was disappointing on resuming in the Listed Manfred Stakes (1300m) at Sandown last Wednesday when third behind Enjin Number Nine at his first start over the distance.
The underwhelming performance has caused connections to scrap plans for Star Witness to contest the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 5 with the Starcraft colt now being aimed at sprint features during the Melbourne Racing Carnival.
“We decided not to pursue the Australian Guineas during the last couple of days,” owner Eric Koundouris said.
“We always had our options open because we are still planning to go to the sprints at Royal Ascot.”
Star Witness will contest the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on February 26 followed by the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) down the Flemington straight a fortnight later.
The Starcraft colts Oakleigh Plate run will come exactly a year after he won the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) as a two-year-old.
Star Witness will then clash with Black Caviar again in the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington on March 12 after the unbeaten mare defeated the Danny O'Brien-trained sprinter by four lengths down the straight six during the Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) last November.
“We've raced against her before and she is a super mare,” Koundouris said.
“We all know she is the top horse but over the years all horses can be beaten.”
Star Witness was nominated for the Group 3 CS Hayes (1400m) at Flemington this weekend.
A trip to Royal Ascot in June is still top priority for Star Witness with Koundouris unsure if the dual Group 1 winner will race during Sydney's autumn carnival following the Newmarket.
“It is a bit early yet to decide that,” the manager of Koundouris Bloodstock said.
“We'll take it one day at a time. At the moment the program is the Oakleigh Plate and the Newmarket Handicap and we will see after that.
“The plan is to take the horse to Royal Ascot so you can't go everywhere, you need to give the horse a little rest.”