Festival litmus test for Kosciuszko winner

Country racing star Art Cadeau faces a fresh challenge in the Festival Stakes.

ART CADEAU.
ART CADEAU. Picture: Martin King / Sportpix

Tommy Berry has labelled Art Cadeau's Festival Stakes test as a moment of truth for the Country Championships and Kosciuszko winner as he looks to make the transition to stakes grade. 

Jockey and horse have developed a strong association over the past 12 months with Berry partnering the gelding in seven of his last eight starts, only missing his Goulburn Cup appearance due to COVID-related travel restrictions. 

During that time Berry has won five races on Art Cadeau, highlighted by the two country features, but he says the horse must now rise to a new level, starting in Saturday's Group 3 Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill. 

Art Cadeau gets into the race a kilo above the 53kg limit, he relishes rain-affected ground and finds his right distance range so there will be no excuses. 

"The weekend is D-day for him," Berry said. 

"We see where he is at class-wise because he might have met his mark now. 

"Winning the Kosciuszko really shot his rating up and that can be detrimental to some horses, considering he was only racing against country horses. 

"But it's not the strongest stakes race that I have seen and he is entitled to his spot in the field." 

Art Cadeau missed a place for the first time in his career last start in the Goulburn Cup when he was trapped deep without cover from an awkward gate. 

Trainer Terry Robinson also felt the horse did too well between runs and his condition told over the final stretch. 

Art Cadeau will strip much fitter for two runs back and Berry is optimistic connections have found the right race to target. 

A $9 chance with TAB fixed odds, the gelding will be on trial for a shot at next month's Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick. 

"That's the way he will head if everything goes well on the weekend, but he would have to run very well to push on to a Villiers," Berry said. 

"He will be up against the same sort of horses so we will know where we're at." 

Kubrick and Blesk are early scratchings from the Festival Stakes, leaving a field of 16. 


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