Class drop to suit Vanuatu at The Valley

Craig Brennan
Trainer Grahame Begg has autumn plans for Vanuatu, a mare who drops in class at The Valley

Trainer Grahame Begg is banking on a class drop being the winning formula for Vanuatu when the mare runs at The Valley.

Having raced against stakes company at her past two starts, Vanuatu drops to benchmark 84 company on Saturday in the Ace Seating Handicap (1600m).

"It's a strong enough race and Sure Knee won't be any pushover, but we're very happy with her," Begg said.

A first-up winner at Cranbourne in October, Vanuatu ran third in the Group Three Tesio Stakes (1600m) at The Valley on Cox Plate day before a last start seventh in the Group Three Summoned Stakes (1500m) at Sandown on November 16.

Begg said the lack of pace counted against Vanuatu with the winner, Jamaican Rain, getting an easy lead and controlling the race.

"Her previous run at The Valley was good and when we saw this race we thought it was silly to turn her out," Begg said.

"She's only had the three runs so she can have this one and then she can go and have a bit of a break and come back for something in the autumn.

"We want to pick up some prize money, try and boost her rating which will then get us into the races we want to run in during the autumn.

"And getting back up to the mile will suit her."

With black-type already on Vanuatu's breeding page, Begg said the next step was to win a race at stakes level to increase the mare's value.

Begg said there was options for Vanuatu in the autumn.

"We don't have to rush off to Sydney," Begg said.

"Something like the Queen Of The South Stakes during the Adelaide carnival could be a nice race for her.

"It's all about building her black-type profile for the owner. She's a nicely bred mare and her future is as a broodmare."

Clayton Douglas rides Vanuatu for the first time on Saturday but has partnered the mare in work at Pinecliff, the property of Vanuatu's owner Jonathan Munz.

"Clayton rode her at Pinecliff yesterday morning and the reports were all good and I'm sure he'll do a good job," Begg said.