Another straight exam awaits Excelsior

True Excelsior is still on track to run in next month’s Group 1 Telegraph (1200m) in New Zealand despite being beaten against her own sex at Flemington last Saturday.

The four-year-old daughter of Exceed and Excel finished third, beaten a long neck by Smart Coupe, in a $100,000 benchmark 84 handicap (1100m) for fillies and mares.

True Excelsior led the field through the first 500 metres under Stephen Baster but couldn’t quicken as sharply as fellow on-pacers Smart Coupe (33.12 seconds) and Fill the Flute (33.33 seconds) over the final 600 metres.

“Stephen (Baster) said that he should have probably let her go just a little bit quicker and it might have made the difference,” said Troy Corstens, who trains in partnership with father Leon.

“She just hit that flat spot with 200 metres remaining and looked gone but to her credit she picked up again.

“They ran a fair bit slower than the other 1100-metre race,” Corstens added, referring to the open sprint won by five-year-old mare Whispering Brook in 1:03.25 which featured an overall 600-metre split of 33.45 seconds. Smart Coupe’s winning time was 1:04.36, the final 600 metres of the race covered in 33.42 seconds.

True Excelsior was racing last weekend for the first time since her luckless ninth in the Group 3 Begonia Belle Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on Derby day (November 3).

Corstens therefore suggests True Excelsior will come on from last Saturday’s run ahead of her next outing in the $160,000 Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on New Year’s Day.

True Excelsior’s Standish performance will determine whether the mare travels to New Zealand for the NZ$250,000 Group 1 JR&N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham on January 19.

True Excelsior is currently 23rd in the order of entry for the Telegraph. The race was formerly a handicap but changed to set-weights and penalties conditions in 2015.

True Excelsior has raced 18 times for two wins and seven placings, three of those minor placings in stakes races. Her career-best effort came last May when fourth in the $1 million Group 1 Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville behind Shoals.

In other stable news, fellow Rosemont Stud-owned stakes performer Thrillster is edging closer to a racetrack return.

“She’s still out in the paddock, she’ll come back into work in another week or two,” Corstens said.

Thrillster has won three of seven starts and boasts prizemoney of $492,000 after winning the $250,000 VOBIS Gold Rush (1000m) at Bendigo and $300,000 VOBIS Gold 2YO Sires (1200m) at Caulfield in April.

The daughter of Starspangledbanner raced four times as a three-year-old filly, winning the Listed Atlantic Jewel Stakes (1200m) and placing in the Group 2 Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m) and Group 3 Quezette Stakes (1100m).

The only time Thrillster missed a place came at her most recent start when fifth, beaten two lengths, after trying to lead throughout in the Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m).

Copy: Carl Di Iorio, Image Racing Photos