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Smokin’ Val’s Victorian venture postponed, not cancelled

Morphettville trainer Jon O’Connor still has his sights on Melbourne with promising three-year-old Smokin’ Val despite staying in Adelaide to race at Morphettville tomorrow.

O’Connor was cautious about throwing the daughter of Corner Stone Stud’s Valentia in the deep end in Saturday’s Listed Cap D'Antibes Stakes over 1100m down the Flemington straight where Damien Oliver was booked to ride.

Smokin’ Val created a big impression at Murray Bridge on debut when she burst between horses and blew rivals away to win by four lengths.

“I am a bit of a believer in trying to develop horses rather than throw them in the deep end,” O’Connor said.

“I think for the horse’s benefit it was better to stay here. I thought it was one run too soon to be going over.

“Obviously the times and margins were good the other day but at the end of the day it was only a maiden, so to be going straight to Flemington taking on horses that have raced in Golden Slippers and Blue Diamonds would have been a big ask.

“If she can knock them off on Saturday, I’d probably go to Moonee Valley in 13 days’ time.”

Despite starting at nice odds for her first start, O’Connor said the horse had taken some significant steps leading into her debut, fuelling his confidence.

“I told the owners to make sure they had something on her,” O’Connor said.

“Up until a month ago she hadn’t shown anything out of the ordinary. I thought she’d certainly win a maiden, but from her first jump-out she just kept improving.

“Initially I was going to trial her on the Thursday, but she galloped with one on the Saturday morning and just trounced it, so I thought ‘let’s take her to the races’.

“She’s certainly got some raw talent.”

O’Connor said it was nice to have some promising, lightly raced horses coming through after what he described as a couple of lean seasons for his Morphettville stable.

“It’s been a long winter and we’ve had a couple of baron seasons,” he said.

“All stables go through it. We certainly weren’t working hard enough.

“It’s like a footy team – we had a few older horses one by one retire and it has taken us about three years to build back up.

“We’ve got some really nice young horses coming through.”

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