Fortress Command is on trial for a Singapore Derby start when he lines up in the Benchmark 88 Handicap (1850m) at Newcastle on Saturday.
Gerald Ryan, who trains in partnership with Sterling Alexiou, said Fortress Command could be heading overseas if he passes his stamina test.
“If he runs a strong 1850m he will go to next year’s Singapore Derby at 2000m,’’ Ryan said. “If he doesn’t run the 1850m, he stays here.’’
The fact Fortress Command is due to go into quarantine on Monday week in preparation for a mid-December flight to Singapore suggests Ryan is confident the gelding will run the trip right out at Newcastle.
Fortress Command is on the quick back-up after ploughing through heavy conditions to win at Rosehill over 1500m last Saturday.
“He came through that race really well and he is better on top of the ground,’’ Ryan said.
The Ryan-Alexiou stable also has promising three-year-old Ellsberg lining up in the Group 3 $160,000 Spring Stakes (1600m).
Ellsberg won his maiden on debut impressively at Warwick Farm then beat all but in-form mare Enchanted Heart at Rosehill.
“I know Ellsberg had the weight advantage over Enchanted Heart the other day but he was only having his second start and the winner is a good mare,’’ Ryan said. “He’s a nice horse, improving all the time and he will appreciate getting back on a firm track.’’
Saas Fee is the stable’s third starter at the rich Newcastle meeting when she takes on Enchanted Heart in a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1400m).
Ryan said Saas Fee, raced by Neil Werrett of Black Caviar fame, has returned to racing in good form this spring with her first-up second at Warwick Farm then a fifth placing at Rosehill.
“Both her runs have been really good,’’ Ryan said. “She went through a stage in the autumn of doing things wrong and over-racing. But after a decent spell she is racing more tractably and will also be better back on top of the ground.’’
Meanwhile, master trainer David Payne said Obvious Step is her “own worst enemy’’ but maintains the filly is talented enough to win the Spring Stakes.
Obvious Step is Payne’s only Newcastle starter and the filly is rated a $10 chance in latest TAB Fixed Odds betting behind $3.10 favourite Perfect Radiance.
Payne said Obvious Step “does everything wrong in her races.’’
“She is her own worst enemy at times but if she stays calm and just concentrates she can pull it off because she has the ability,’’ Payne said.
“If you look at all her runs she has been very unlucky most of the time. We are going to ride her quietly and if there is some speed on up front, she will be running on strongly.’’
Payne revealed his stable star Montefilia has gone for a spell after an outstanding spring campaign that yielded Group 1 wins in the Flight Stakes and Spring Champion Stakes, and a third placing in the VRC Oaks.
“Montefilia is out in the paddock now and enjoying a break,’’ he said. “I’ll give her six weeks off then starting build her up for the Surround Stakes and races like that in the autumn.’’