Verstappen with chance to emulate sibling

MELBOURNE Aug 19 2016

Promising colt Verstappen will be out to emulate his elder sibling when he makes his stakes debut at Moonee Valley.

The Danny O'Brien-trained Verstappen raced to a convincing maiden win on the Pakenham synthetic track at his first start and is one of the main chances in Saturday's Listed McKenzie Stakes (1200m) - a race his half-brother Well Sprung won last year.

Well Sprung, trained by Lyn Tolsen and Leonie Proctor, will also be in action on Saturday in the Listed Carlyon Stakes.

It opens up the possibility of a double for the brothers' dam Sprung for the second year in a row with Well Sprung and Tawteen successful at the corresponding meeting a year ago.

Verstappen and Tawteen are both by Stratum out of Sprung and the now-retired Tawteen won five from eight at Moonee Valley with three placings.

"The progeny out of that mare seem to have a real affinity with Moonee Valley, so hopefully he can carry on the tradition," O'Brien said.

O'Brien is looking forward to testing Verstappen in stakes company after his 4-1/4 length debut win.

"He had trialled very well and he's a really good style of a colt from a really good mare," O'Brien said.

"He had plenty going for him before he went to the races but that's always the moment of truth and he delivered.

"Obviously it's a jump to go from a maiden to a stakes race but the way he won and the type of colt he is, we're more than happy to see how he goes."

Verstappen was taken to Moonee Valley on Tuesday and galloped in company with stablemate Awake In Grinzing, pleasing O'Brien with the way he worked and handled the circuit.

The scratchings of Rampage and China Dream have reduced the McKenzie Stakes field to seven with the Darren Weir-trained Ken's Dream the $2.20 favourite after his nine-length Echuca maiden win.

Verstappen is at $3.60.

"There's a couple of horses in there that are very lightly raced that have shown really good ability like him, so those races are always a bit tricky because the horses aren't fully exposed yet," O'Brien said.

"But we haven't put a ceiling on our guy yet and we're hoping that he goes there and shows us that he's got plenty more to come too.

"We would be going in expecting him to run very well."



Mathew Toogood - AAP

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