Passage seeking Summer at Flemington

Darryl Sherer - Wednesday September 13

New Zealand colt Summer Passage is one of two Group I winners nominated for Saturday's Group II Danehill Stakes (1200m) at Flemington where he has come seeking drier weather.

Summer Passage (near side) at Flemington on Tuesday. Photo: Darryl Sherer

The Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott-trained Summer Passage is the second highest rated three-year-old in the race behind Blue Diamond Stakes winner Catchy.

Summer Passage won last season's Group I Sistema Diamond Stakes under Blake Shinn over 1200m at Ellerslie before the son of Snitzel travelled to Sydney where he finished runner-up behind Invader in the Group I ATC Sires' Produce Stakes at Randwick.

Like many trainers in New Zealand, Scott and O'Sullivan have been compromised by the wet winter.

"We've already passed the average rainfall for the year in Matamata and it's incredibly wet," Scott said.

"He's had a couple of quiet trials and gone okay without being sensational. We've poured a bit of work into him since and he's showing us he should be competitive at least at Flemington.

"Racing up the straight will be unknown territory but we have a straight 2000m gallop at home that he's done some work on."

Summer Passage finished fifth behind Lizzie L'Amour in a 1100m barrier trial at Taupo on August 8 where he was settled off the early speed.

Scott said it appears Summer Passage has struck a strong race on Saturday.

"It looks like it is going to be a strong race on Saturday which is what you expect in Melbourne in the spring," Scott said.

"What we did find last preparation was that he got better as he went on and I'd say whatever he does on Saturday he will improve on - we're not sure if they will be too quick for him and he might already be looking for further.

"He's nominated for the Caulfield Guineas and the Cox Plate and there is also the option of the Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington on Derby day.

"We'll know a lot more after Saturday and then make a decision about which way we go."

Mark Zahra will ride Summer Passage in the Danehill Stakes.

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