Ax ready to take down George Moore Stakes rivals

Image: Darren Winningham

Trainer Jack Bruce hopes the George Moore Stakes can kick-start a fruitful summer campaign for Axe

In-form sprinter Ax will make just his fourth start for Jack Bruce when he lines up in the Group 3 George Moore Stakes at Doomben, but horse and trainer have a much longer history.

Ax began his career with Bjorn Baker when Bruce learned his trade under the top Sydney trainer and has followed the horse’s trajectory ever since.

“When he was two years old was about when I went from there, but I watched his progress and was familiar with the horse from a day-to-day perspective,” Bruce said.

Ax was eventually castrated and sent to co-owner trainer Michael Costa, but when Costa moved to Dubai earlier this year, the horse was put up for sale again and Bruce was quick to pounce.

The six-year-old has raced three times for Bruce to a stakes win and two close seconds, but his main focus will be to fly the stable’s flag through Brisbane’s summer carnival races before a tilt in the Magic Millions Cup (1400m ). or Magic Millions Snippets (1200m).

“It will all culminate in the Magic Millions in mid-January, that’s his long-distance target and there are some nice races along the way,” said Bruce.

“He’s in good form and as an older horse now he’s more mature and able to compete at a good, solid level in Queensland.”

Ax has not raced since being unseated by Ef Troop at Eagle Farm in mid-October but reacts well fresh and has only missed out on a top-three finish once in five starts at Doomben.

Bruce said the horse had freshened up nicely and expected to be competitive from a good draw in barrier five in what he considered an even edition of the George Moore Stakes (1200m) on Saturday.

“His work has been good and he’s right where he needs to be,” Bruce said.

“It’s going to be a pretty even contest and a competitive race, but he’s going as well as he’s been.

“He runs well fresh and drawing a barrier is his key. He’s won from wide goals before, but a good goal means he has to work harder to find position early.”

A field of 13 will pit George Moore against Garibaldi, a nominal $3.60 favourite, to give Tony Gollan back-to-back wins after the leading trainer claimed the race last year with Zoustyle.

Ax is an $8.50 chance.

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