Multiple Grade 1 winner Winchester took another step toward a new career in the Southern Hemisphere when the seven-year-old Theatrical (Ire) horse settled in last week at Malua Racing Stables at Flemington Racecourse, Victoria, to prepare for a campaign designed to culminate in the Melbourne Cup (Aus-G1) on November 6.
Malua’s general manager, Tony Corstens, said Winchester arrived in fine condition following a month-long quarantine in New Zealand, mandated after he was purchased by Anthony Mithen’s Rosemont Stud and then shipped from the U.S.
“We’ve had him in the stables for about a week and a half,” Corstens told www.racingandsports.com.au. “He’s a beautiful horse, we are very pleased with him.”
Winchester, out of Irish Group 3 winner Rum Charger (Ire), by Spectrum, began his racing career in Ireland and was stakes-placed there before relocating to the U.S., where he scored his first stakes win in the 2008 Secretariat Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park for trainer Dermot Weld.
After being transferred to Christophe Clement’s barn, he won the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes (G1) and the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (G1), both at Belmont Park, in 2010.
Last year, he won the Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course.
Winchester originally was retired by owners/breeders Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone following his third-place finish in the W.L. McKnight Handicap (G2) last November, with career totals of six wins from 25 starts and $1,587,098.
He was then purchased by Rosemont Stud and transferred to Malua Racing Stables and head trainer John Sadler, with the intent of conditioning the horse to test the 3200-meter (15.90-furlong) Melbourne Cup.
“A horse like this going into the spring, if we can get him up and going there is no doubt he can be a Cups horse,” Corstens said. “He is already fully qualified.
“He has just been ticking over for about four weeks and he is about ready to step up and start a bit of pace work in the next week or two. We’ll look to a first-up run for him in around late August.”