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Price wary of sprint trip for Verbek's Kembla return

There’s no doubt in co-trainer Robert Price’s mind that Verbek has the scope to develop into a talented galloper for the stable but warns his return at Kembla Grange on Thursday is very much a starting point.

Interestingly, in a bit of insight into the Price stable's opinion of the gelding, the spring blueprint initially included an option to head to the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) but time has beaten him and focus turns to getting things rolling in the Edgar Britt Handicap (1000m).

Verbek is not a 5 f horse but he has actually been first past the post in a race, at Hawkesbury in May, but lost it on protest before finishing second in a Listed race in Brisbane.

"This gets us up and going. Initially I wanted to head towards the Spring Champion Stakes with him,'' Price said.

"He looks very well but I'm certainly not going to over rate him until we see him develop in front of us.

"I can see him running well but he will get that 5 f gallop under his belt and we'll be able to reassess where we are going."

It's noticeable that Verbek hasn't had any official trials leading into his first-up run and Price, who co-trains with his son Luke, said that's in part due to a lack of 5 f trials at the right time.

But he credits Luke with the idea to commence the campaign in Thursday's race given there should be enough speed on for Verbek to find his feet without over-racing then it comes down to whether he can pick his five rivals up.

"His pedigree is more a miler. When they are in their two and three-year-old seasons they can do things they don't do as an older horse,'' Price said.

"He really shouldn't be a maiden and shouldn't have went to Queensland as a maiden. I'm pretty certain he won't be a maiden for long.

"We've put the blinkers on him, I've been dying to put them on him, so this is a good time to start him off."

Stablemate Grand Palazzo resumes alongside Verbek and she's another that Price says won't remain a maiden for too long though suggests she'll need a track upgrade or two to be most effective.

The four-year-old mare has been placed in two of her nine starts and has had an official trial at Kembla Grange on September 6.

"Things have gone wrong with her and she's a tricky one because she can tie up and she's constantly on season and makes the job even harder,'' he said.

"She doesn't like wet tracks but it'll be a perfect set up for her."

It might be worth keeping an eye on how Tivaci filly So I See performs in the Neville Sellwood Handicap (1500m) at her third race start.

Price says she could develop into an autumn Oaks filly and is expecting her to improve on what was a pleasing first-up fifth, albeit beaten 4.5 lengths by Conegliano, at Nowra last month.

"I like her, she's a really nice filly,'' he said.

"I've had three generations of that pedigree. I think she could be an ideal one to nominate for the Oaks in the autumn."

Meanwhile, Price said it's all systems go for stable star Jamaea to take on the colts in Saturday week's Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m).


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