Graff to run in Standish at Flemington en route to Magic Millions Sprint

TALENTED sprinter Graff is to use the Standish Handicap at Flemington on Friday to be primed for an attack on the $1million Magic Millions Sprint on the Gold Coast.

Trainer Danny O’Brien had considered trialling the five-year old before the trip to Queensland for the Sprint on January 16, but has opted to give him a hitout down the Flemington straight instead.

Nominations for the Group 3 Standish were extended a day in response to there being only eight entries. O’Brien took advantage of the extension to throw Graff’s name into the race and he is topweight in the eight-horse field with 59kg.

“I was toying with the idea of trialling him or running him down the straight,” O’Brien said. “The noms came up a bit skinny, so we will run him.

“He has raced in higher class throughout his career, so it is probably a drop back in grade for him. Certainly from his last start behind Bivouac in the Sprint Classic.

“Even though he has 59kg, he is not in it too badly.”

Graff made his debut for the O’Brien stable when he beat Fabergino in the Group 2 Caulfield Sprint on October 17, then was beaten 5.7 lengths behind Bivouac in a Classic field which included Nature Sprint, Libertini and Hey Doc.

The horse was spelled after the November 7 outing and O’Brien said he was in great shape.

“He has been down at the beach property and had a life at the beach,” he said.

Champion jockey Damien Oliver, who rode Graff at Caulfield, has regained the ride.

Graff had his final run for his previous trainer Kris Lees in Queensland, being unplaced in the Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm in June.

The Phillip Stokes-trained Defiant Dancer, a winner of his past four starts, has opened as favourite for the Standish.

Former Kiwi Run To Perfection will also be having his third start for the O’Brien stable when he resumes from a seven-month spell in a Benchmark 78 over 1200m.

“He has come back in good shape,” O’Brien said. “He has had a couple of barrier trials and I expect him to run well.”

O’Brien also has I Am Enchanting making her debut in the two-year old fillies event over 1000m and he said she was at Flemington to gain race-day experience.

“She is a nice enough filly, but probably will be better over further later in her career,” he said.

Originally published asO’Brien hoping to strike gold with Graff

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