Sydney sprinter heads south to Sandown

Dragonstone is set to contest a sprint race at Sandown on Australia Day.

Racing through the grades at this stage of the preparation makes more sense to Sydney trainer Mark Newnham than chasing a slightly bigger prize at weight-for-age level. 

It is for that reason Newnham is sending Dragonstone to Melbourne to run in the Listed W J Adams Stakes (1000m) at Sandown on Thursday. 

The Adams Stakes carries $75,000 less in prize money than the Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on Saturday, which now has 14 extra nominations, after only four horses were entered on Monday and nominations were extended until Tuesday morning. 

"A horse like him, that is a gelding, if he runs a place, it ruins his rating for not a huge result," Newnham said in electing not to enter for the Expressway Stakes. 

"It's fine if you win, but at weight-for-age, Group 2, he'd be a 105 rater if he runs second, and he probably never wins another race. 

"We want him to be competitive for the next couple of years, so unless you've got the right horse, it just doesn't work well." 

Dragonstone will instead have his third outing in Melbourne on Thursday. 

At his first Melbourne start, Dragonstone chased home Passive Aggressive at Flemington over 6 f while at last start down south he finished seventh to Asfoora in the Group 2 Caulfield Sprint (1000m). 

Newnham said Dragonstone drew gate one that day and the winners were getting away from the fence on the soft rated track. 

Dragonstone finished third in the Listed Canterbury Stakes (1200m) on New Year's Day at his most recent outing. 

"He's freshened up well in the last couple of weeks, so we thought he might as head down and have a shot at a race like that," Newnham said. 

"He's well rated, well graded in this type of race. He's goes good on wet and dry, and his form stacks up at this sort of level. 

"It looks to be a high-speed race which is what he needs." 

Dragonstone will have the services of Blake Shinn on Thursday and Newnham said depending if the sprinter was to win on Thursday, he may return for the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) at Sandown on February 11. 

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