After ending the 2016/17 season with a flurry of city winners, trainer
Robert Smerdon will be relying on in-form Dulverton (Commands x Rathlin Island) to start the new campaign
on a positive note at Flemington.
Smerdon has Dulverton nominated for a 1600m open handicap and a benchmark-84
for fillies and mares over 1700m at Melbourne's first city meeting of the new
season on Saturday and said the latter was the most likely option.
"Unfortunately in Victoria you can only declare in one race whereas in
New South Wales you could take the opportunity to declare in both and then
weigh it up after acceptances," Smerdon said.
"We will look at the weights but I'm thinking the mares' race is
probably the way she'll go."
Dulverton has won her past two starts at Sandown and Flemington, playing her
part in a successful final month of the season for the Smerdon stable.
The Caulfield trainer had eight Melbourne city winners in July from just 13
runners and finished third on the Victorian metropolitan trainers' premiership
with 37 wins.
"We certainly started off slowly," Smerdon said.
"We had a quiet mid part of the year but the last few months have been
building up and been pretty good."
Dulverton won over 1600m on July 22 at Flemington against her own sex and
was nominated for a couple of races last weekend, including a stakes race in Sydney,
but Smerdon opted to wait another week.
"She's never been going better," Smerdon said.
"Her best form prior to now has always been on affected ground and that
was the reservation going into her last run, how she would be at Flemington on
"But I would say she quickened better than I'd ever seen her.
"It's a plus if she gets a soft track but she proved there that she can
be just as effective on top of the ground."
With plans for Dulverton to head to stud this spring, Smerdon said there might
be an opportunity after Saturday for the mare to chase some valuable