MELBOURNE – Trainer James Fraser couldn’t be happier with the way honest sprinter Dr Nipandtuck has come back since the spring carnival and is expecting a bold showing from him in today’s Standish Handicap at Flemington. The five-year-old raced consistently through the spring without winning, but showed his capabilities with a first-up third behind Here De Angels and Gold Edition in the Group Three Ian McEwen Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield on September 1.
That encouraging effort was followed by another fast-finishing third behind Gold Edition and Vormista in the Group One Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley.
Dr Nipandtuck didn’t manage a place in his next four starts, three of them at Group One level and the other a Group Two race, but he wasn’t beaten far in any of them, including a last-start fifth to Tears I Cry in the Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on November 10.
“He didn’t have a great deal of luck but he ran some great races during the carnival,” Fraser said.
“He pulled up sore after the Jayco Crystal Mile, so he had excuses that day when he hung very badly, and all his other runs were excellent.”
The last thing Fraser wants for Dr Nipandtuck is a hard track, but he is happy with the early dead rating, which he says is the gelding’s preferred surface.
“I know it won’t be wet, but it will be well watered. The weather is his biggest danger,” Fraser said.
“He’s going really well. He had 16 days in the paddock after the Emirates and he came back, and the last few weeks I’ve been super-happy with him.”
Dr Nipandtuck, who has won seven of his 30 starts with nine other placings and more than $500,000 in prizemoney, can land his best win in today’s $200,000 Group Three feature over 1200m.
His only black type victory to date was his latest win in the Straight Six (1200m) at Sandown last May.
“He ran his best races in the spring and I think he’s still improving,” Fraser said.
“When things have gone wrong I’ve backed off him, and because he ran so well in those sprints fresh I’ve elected to come this way, and it gives me options that perhaps I can do something like that again for a race like the Newmarket.”
Darren Gauci, who won on Dr Nipandtuck over the straight 1200m at Flemington in his three-year-old season, takes the ride on the five- year-old, who has drawn barrier five in the 13-horse field.
The 42-year-old is chasing his fifth Standish, having won on True Version (1986), Jolly Old Mac (1992), Whistle Up (1999) and Upright (2000).
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