The West

Melbourne-bound pair to test Kalahaar
Trainer Steve Wolfe

Trainer Steve Wolfe should get a strong gauge on where he is heading with Kalahaar, who is up against Melbourne-bound pair Born To Excel and Darlington Abbey in today's Handicap at Ascot.

Rivals Dan Morton and Simon Miller have bold aspirations for Born To Excel and Darlington Abbey at Melbourne's autumn festival.

The former top-priced ($200,000) Perth sale yearling, Born To Excel was among 48 entries this week in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m), to be run at Flemington on March 9.

The four-year-old started his campaign by beating Beltane over 1200m at Ascot last Saturday week, but he needs to keep up the tempo if he is to raise his 78 rating and qualify for the Australian Cup.

Darlington Abbey, a winner of last year's two-year-old Magic Millions Classic, is striving to land valuable Black Type events in Melbourne's three-year-old fillies' series, with the $220,000 Kewney Stakes (1400m) on March 9 her prime target.

Miller elected to tackle the older horses with his three-year-old to gain some weight compensation after she copped 61.5kg, compared to 56.5kg, in today's Westspeed Handicap (1000m) against her own age.

Kalahaar has won five of his eight starts and Player yesterday installed the gelding at $2.75, ahead of Darlington Abbey ($3.30) and Born To Excel ($3.80).

Jockey Paul Harvey takes over from Wolfe's suspended apprentice Natasha Faithfull on the four-year-old.

Faithfull was banned for 30 days when she shifted out when not sufficiently clear, causing Shaun O'Donnell to fall from Geiger Rio over 1100m last Saturday week.

Kalahaar faces a 5kg rise up to 58kg on his last start, but he is unbeaten at his two second-up runs.

Born To Excel, with O'Donnell replacing the suspended William Pike, drops two kilos on his last win, while Darlington Abbey (rating 79) is well weighted, on 56.5kg, to win first-up.

Miller's all-girl team appears set to give the Ascot trainer a top day, with Grey Cheval a $1.10 chance to stretch her winning streak to three straight in the Celebrate Australia Day Sprint (1000m) and Foxy Commander on the third line of betting at $5.50, behind Dark Miss ($4.20) and Louisiana Lady ($5), in the Danmar Homes Handicap (1400m).

Two-year-old Surrounded is a $2.50 favourite in the Westspeed Plate (1100m).

The West Australian

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