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Clarken Racing | Clarken Racing News 53823 Ironclad Headlines Clarkens Two State Feature Assault

Ironclad headlines Clarken's two-state feature assault

Ironclad headlines Clarken's two-state feature assault

Ironclad nearly knocked off the darling of Western Australian racing in the Northerly Stakes last month but now finds himself on the other side of the country for a vastly different assignment in the Group 2 Australia Stakes at The Valley.

The South Australian seven-year-old put in a bold run on the pace to finish second to Amelia's Jewel in the 1800m Perth Group 1 but he'll be the hunter in Saturday's 1200m sprint, hitting the line hard off what is expected to be a hot pace.

With a trio of runners contesting the Listed Durbridge Stakes over the same distance at home in Adelaide, trainer Will Clarken has decided to roll the dice with Ironclad as he gives him a tune-up before the Group 3 Carlyon Cup at Sandown in a fortnight.

"The mile race at set weights and penalties on Orr Stakes day just looks a beautiful race for him on paper, that's his goal," Clarken, who trains in partnership with Niki O'Shea, said.

"Originally I was going to give him a gallop in the Durbridge but we put the nomination in (for the Australia Stakes), there's only a small field and good prizemoney and he's drawn a beautiful gate with Jamie (Kah) on so I think it's a no-brainer to have a throw at the stumps.

"They're going to go extremely hard and if he can keep up early, I'm sure he's going to be super strong late."

Ironclad is a versatile horse, a Listed winner over 1200m while also being placed at Group 2 level over 1400m and 2100m this campaign, in addition to his fantastic Group 1 effort in the Northerly.

Clarken is thrilled with how he's come back after his trip west.

"He's better than when he left – he's more worldly, he's had a really hard racing campaign, he's sound as I've ever seen him," he said.

"He's really come of age … I'm sure he's got a really good back-end of summer and autumn in front of him."

While Clarken boasts a three-pronged attack in the Durbridge – Beau Rossa, Parsifal and He's A Balter – he thinks only one is a winning chance.

"The horses are going as good as they can go, it's just the depth of that race is so significant," he said.

"I think the Durbridge is a race in three – Beau Rossa, Kemalpasa and See You In Heaven. Something is going to have to go wrong for one of those three not to win with the weight-for-age conditions.

"I like the trip and I like the track for Beau Rossa – he just hasn't won for a while.

"I don't think there should be as much between him and Kemalpasa in the market but I can understand why See You In Heaven is as short as she is – she's probably the most exciting young horse in the state."

Clarken will also saddle up the best-backed runner at The Valley with the smart Jean Valjean crunched in from $4.40 to $2.60 favouritism with the TAB.

"He maps perfectly in barrier four and Jamie takes the ride, there looks to be good speed – he ticks a lot of boxes," he said.

"His trial was excellent the other day – he went to Strathalbyn to have a soft hitout and he's ended up running the fastest time of the morning hard-held.

"He looks fantastic but he's got one thing he has to overcome which is the travel and for horses doing it the first time it can go either way but I can understand why they've come for him."

Story from Tom Biddington (Race Net)

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