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Concerns with Dubai travel for sprinter

The Quarterback ridden by Craig Newitt
Robbie Griffiths believes the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai could the right race for The Quarterback.

Flemington straight-track specialist The Quarterback is in the early stages of a preparation trainer Robbie Griffiths hopes can culminate in a Group One treble.

The Quarterback has been back in work at Cranbourne trotting and cantering in preparation for a first-up tilt at the Lightning Stakes at Flemington in February.

Griffiths said the plan was to defend the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington in March after which a decision will be made on a trip to Dubai for the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan on Dubai World Cup night.

The Quarterback is a 50-50 chance to head to Dubai with the trainer’s main concern the travel involved.

Buffering won the race over the straight 1000m in March this year while next year the race has been extended to 1200m on the straight course.

“Realistically it’s the perfect race for him,” Griffiths said.

“A straight track, 1200 metres and with similar weather to Melbourne.

“There’s no other reason not to go, only the fear of travel.”

Griffiths said once The Quarterback was closer to a racing return the ownership group would discuss the risks.

He said he was concerned if something went wrong, The Quarterback could be forced to miss a preparation.

“Buffering was older than him and had probably done all he could do here, but when he didn’t come back as good this year you wonder if it was the travelling,” Griffiths said.

“But then he also had that problem in Hong Kong.

“If we don’t feel like we want to take on the risk of travel we’ve still got the potential for a few good years ahead of us and he could potentially be another Buffering.

“We might be one of those evergreen horses each season.”

The Quarterback won first-up at Flemington in October before running fourth at Moonee Valley in the Manikato Stakes.

He was galloped on when sixth in the Darley Classic on the final day of the Melbourne Cup carnival.

Free entry for the Al Quoz Sprint closes on January 12.

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