Owner Terry Henderson with Gailo Chop who has continnued his comeback with a barrier trial win.
Multiple Group One winner Gailo Chop has taken another step towards his planned return in the Makybe Diva Stakes, stretching out well to win a Cranbourne barrier trial by a big margin on a heavy track.
Gailo Chop, owned by Terry Henderson’s OTI Racing, has not raced since finishing second to Winx in the Group One Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in April last year and is now trained by Matthew Williams at Warrnambool.
The nine-year-old gelding has had a steady build-up coming back from a tendon injury and his 12-length win over lesser performed opposition in Monday’s hit-out was his third barrier trial win this preparation.
“I thought he stretched out really well late and when Mark (Zahra) kept asking him for a bit more he kept extending nicely,” Williams said.
“Mark was really happy. His action was great. He had a bit of a blow when he came back in but his recovery five minutes after the trial was great and his tendon and soundness was terrific after the trial.
“He’s pretty close now. The Makybe Diva Stakes is where he is kicking off.”
The Group One Makybe Diva (1600m) is at Flemington on Saturday week and Williams said things were all coming together nicely at the right time.
“He’s obviously going to take a run or two. If he was running in the first half in the Makybe and three or four lengths off them, you’d be rapt heading towards the Underwood Stakes second-up,” the trainer said.
The Cox Plate is a target for Gailo Chop, with Williams to decide after the Underwood whether the gelding’s preparation needs to include the Caulfield Stakes.
The promising Williams-trained import Harbour Views, winner of his three starts, also won a trial on Monday, narrowly beating Group One winner Mr Quickie over 1190m.
Williams said Harbour Views was a bit fresh early in the trial but still finished strongly.
“I couldn’t be happier with him,” Williams said.
“I don’t know how good he is but I think it’s extremely exciting.”
Williams has pencilled in a couple of benchmark-78 races at Caulfield and Geelong for Harbour Views with the aim to target the $500,000 Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Cup (1600m) at Flemington on November 7 before the $500,000 Listed Ballarat Cup (2000m).