TRAINER Aaron Purcell has outlined an ambitious program for his talented mare Spirit Song which could culminate in races in Sydney and Brisbane after a first-up start in the $150,000 group 3 Mannerism Stakes over 1400 metres at Caulfield on February 23.
Purcell has pencilled in runs in the $150,000 group 3 Schweppervescence Stakes at Flemington on March 9 and the $220,000 group 2 Sunline Stakes at Moonee Valley on March 22 for Spirt Song.
He will then consider the $2 million group 1 Doncaster Handicap at Randwick over 1600 metres on April 20.
The five-year-old mare won the Schweppervescence and Sunline Stakes last year and Purcell believes she is in as good a condition as last year.
"She's come back into work in great shape," she said. "We've had her back in the stable for about six weeks. We're doing a fair bit of beach work with her. She really thrived when she was having a break," the Grand Annual Steeplechase-winning trainer said.
"She'll have her first run back in the Mannerism if her form in the Schweppervescence and the Sunline Stakes warrants it. We'll look at taking her to Sydney for the Doncaster and maybe a few of the big races in Brisbane over the winter."
Spirit Song has won six of her 14 starts for Purcell who is hopeful the mare has a few more seasons of racing in her before going to the breeding barn.
" The long-term aim for her is a breeding career. She's a very valuable broodmare," Purcell said.
"Her value would increase if she could happen to win another few feature group or listed races during this campaign."
Purcell revealed his imported jumper Dhaffer may have his first jumps start this season in the Grand Annual Steeplechase on May 2.
"Our main aim is the Grand Annual Steeplechase," he said. "He's in good shape. We'll just be putting the miles in his legs in races and in trackwork.
"His first-up jumps run will probably be in the Grand Annual but we might think of going to the steeplechase at Hamilton in April if there is a bit of give in the track.
"We want to school him over the fences at Warrnambool at each opportunity we can get in the lead-up to the Grand Annual.
"I think the more schooling we can do with him early in his preparation will stand him in good stead later on when the feature jumps races start."
CIARON Maher parted with $130,000 to buy a yearling colt by Pentire at last week's Karaka Select yearling sales in New Zealand.
Maher described the yearling out of Arniston as the best Pentire in the sales.
"I thought he was a stand-out type at the sales," he said. "He's a big strong type who has a good staying pedigree," Maher said. "He'll need a bit of time but I could see him being a type of Derby horse as a three-year-old."
Meanwhile, Maher said he was hopeful of giving his mare Spin The Bottle one more run in this campaign following her last placing in a 1400-metre race at Caulfield on Saturday.
"On face value it was a disappointing run but there may have been one or two reasons for the poor effort," Maher said. "We'll look at dropping her back in class to a mid-week mares race over 1600 metres before giving her a short break and then set her for a race at the Warrnambool May carnival."
Spin The Bottle has won three of her eight starts.
WARRNAMBOOL's training ranks will get a boost next month when the Strathalbyn training combination of Kevin and Heather Frew take over on-course stables at the racecourse.
The Frews, who aim to have 20 horses and pre-trainers in work within a couple of months, have signed up for stables in Park Street from the Warrnambool Racing Club and other stables which had been occupied by Jarrod McLean.
Kevin said the move provided a great opportunity for his family .
" The prizemoney in Victoria is very good compared to South Australia," he said. "The training facilities in Warrnambool are excellent.
"Jordan, our son, who is an apprentice jockey, will be moving over here within a period of time. The move should be a positive one for him as there are a lot more opportunities here than in South Australia."
Kevin said he was hopeful of having several jumping horses ready for the Warrnambool May Racing Carnival.
DESPITE Reckless Rat scoring an impressive win on the flat in a restricted race over 1850 metres at Terang on Sunday, the five-year-old is destined for a career over jumps.
Trainer Symon Wilde, who trains in partnership with his father Bill, said Reckless Rat had shown staying ability.
"We thought he ran well here the other day in an 1850-metre race," he said. "He appeared to have derived plenty of benefit from that run. The claim for apprentice Harry Coffey also helped his chances," Wilde said.
" We did some endurance treadmill tests with him and he showed us he could stay. Our long-term aim is a jumps career with him."
Sunday's victory was Reckless Rat's third from 13 starts.
FORMER Flemington-trained mare Societal is enjoying the seachange environment of Warrnambool, according to her trainer Jarrod McLean.
The four-year-old won a restricted race over 1100 metres at Warrnambool last Thursday.
"I thought it was a good tough win," he said. "She had worked well in the leadup to the race. We've found out now that she can run on wet tracks. She's won three races now. We'll keep her for races in the range of between 1000 to 1200 metres.
Societal has won more than $38,000 in stakemoney.
WARRNAMBOOL Racing Club will host the first set of jumps trials and schools for this season on Friday.
Club chief executive officer John Green said the jumping trials and schools would offer a good hit-out for trainers who were preparing horses for the first jumps race meeting at Warrnambool on March 4.
"We've got two hurdle races and a steeplechase at our March 4 meeting," Green said. "The schools and trials this Friday will offer a great pipe-opener for trainers who are looking at running horses at that meeting.
"There's a great deal of interest from owners and trainers regarding jumps racing for this season on the back of a successful season last year. We're expecting good numbers competing in jumps races as the season progresses."
The Friday schools will start at 10am and the trials at 11am.