Barrier a worry for Xanthus

Mark Oberhardt
Xanthus (left) will have to contend with a wide barrier when he races at Eagle Farm

Trainer Matt Dunn will be forced into running promising Xanthus despite the gelding drawing a bad barrier at Eagle Farm.

Xanthus will get an early start to his winter carnival campaign in the Ascot Green Three-Year-Old Handicap (1000m) in which he has drawn barrier 11.

Dunn said the barrier was far from perfect for Xanthus who will be ridden by Michael Cahill.

Xanthus had strong form when last in work around top three-year-olds such as The Odyssey, Ballistic Boy and Gem of Scotland.

Dunn has no doubt he will develop into a top horse but believes Xanthus has a task on Saturday.

"It is a very ordinary barrier from that start. There is nothing suitable for him in Brisbane next week so unless I can find something else he will have to run," Dunn said.

Xanthus has won barrier trials at Grafton and Eagle Farm to get ready for Saturday's race.

Dunn will run promising Ashman who has also trialled nicely for his return in the Eva Air Plate (1200m).

Ashman won four races in a row before finishing second at his last start before a spell in November.

"He hasn't grown much but you know he tries and his trial was good," Dunn said.

He hopes Ashman can take the step up to minor feature races in the winter.