Australian Gr.1 next for Ardrossan

Ardrossan (centre) finishing a close third behind winner Melody Belle and runner-up Bostonian (outside) in last Saturday’s Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint at Te Rapa.

Smart Cambridge sprinter Ardrossan is to continue his Group One path in Australia.

The Redoute’s Choice four-year-old suffered his first New Zealand defeat in Saturday’s Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa, but lost no admirers with his fighting effort for a close third behind Melody Belle when beaten a head and a nose.

On the strength of that performance his connections have decided to shift their sights to the Gr.1 A$500,000 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Randwick on March 9 rather than opt for the lesser mission of the Gr.3 Waikato Stud Plate (1200m) at Ellerslie a week earlier.

“He deserves a crack at the Group One in Sydney,’’ trainer Stephen Marsh said.

‘’The owners are keen to have a go and he went a top race on Saturday. He has pulled up well and the 1300m  should suit him.

‘’We’ll look to take him over close to the race and we’re yet to decide on a rider.’’

Among Ardrossan’s five New Zealand starts are two black-type wins, including a strong victory in the Gr.3 Concorde Handicap (1200m) at Ellerslie last month, and his Gr.1 placing has helped boost his pedigree.

But he needs to gather significant black-type form in Australia to increase his value as a potential sire and Marsh is hoping he can do that at the top level next start.

‘’At this stage we’re just concentrating on the Canterbury Stakes and we’ll see after that whether he has another run in Sydney,’’ Marsh said.

Ardrossan’s racing career has been resurrected since he was sent to Melbourne last year and a series of problems prevented him showing his real form in three starts.

His comeback run for Marsh was a winning one at Te Aroha when beating Dama Zorro, who won the final race at Te Rapa on Saturday for visiting jockey Michael Rodd.

Marsh enjoyed a win with Miss Rippy at Te Rapa on Saturday and gave Crown Prosecutor, winner of the Gr.3 Wellington Stakes (1600m) a lead-up to the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) next month.

Crown Prosecutor finished ninth in the Gr.2 Waikato Guineas (2000m), six and a quarter lengths from the winner, Sponge Bob.

“He’ll go straight to the Derby now,’’ Marsh said. ‘’He’ll be ridden a lot more forward in the Derby to use his speed. He just got too far back on Saturday.’’

Marsh’s other New Zealand Derby prospect is Vernanme, who will be on trial for the feature when tackling the Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Ellerslie this coming Saturday.

The son of O’Reilly is a one-race winner, but justified his Derby nomination when second equal behind Madison County in the Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham last start.

“He’s flying at present,’’ Marsh said. ‘’He went a top race last start and the distance will suit him on Saturday. Jason Waddell will ride him in that and also the Derby.”

Waddell won last year’s New Zealand Derby on Vin De Dance after finishing third on him in the Avondale Guineas.