Group 1 agenda for Greta West

Greta West Stud can play a Group 1 hand with Free Of Debt and Le Romain during the upcoming carnivals at Caulfield and Flemington.

Free Of Debt will require a late-entry fee for the G1 Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield on February 23 but connections will stump up $55,000 if he keeps progressing off an awesome victory at Flemington on Saturday.

Le Romain is proven at the elite level and looks set for another successful campaign following a leisurely hit-out at Newcastle on Tuesday. He holds Flemington nominations for the G1 Newmarket Hcp on March 9 and $5 million All-Star Mile on March 16.

Free Of Debt (Unencumbered) was bred and sold by Greta West owners Laurie and John McCarthy for $30,000 at the 2018 Adelaide Magic Millions. He won on debut at Morphettville last month and doubled up at Flemington in the Duane Rogers Plate (1200m).

“That’s a big, big buzz,” visiting trainer Chris Bieg said. “And to win the way he did is very exciting.”

The Adelaide colt dominated with a front-running victory at headquarters beating short-priced favourite Viking Warrior on his merits. Connections collected $90,000 including a VOBIS bonus that would more than cover the late-entry payment.

Bieg said final decision will be made after his next start in the G2 Blue Diamond Prelude on February 9. “That colt he beat today is a very promising horse so why not have a crack?”

Free Of Debt’s dam Stagerush (Giant’s Causeway) foaled a filly by Greta West resident Master Of Design on November 21 and, being so late, she was given a year off this season.

Stagerush was bred by Coolmore Stud and was a Sandown winner for Limerick Lane’s Gerry Ryan. Her sold her as a broodmare prospect to the McCarthy brothers for $22,000 at the 2009 Inglis Great Southern Sale.

A few months later, Sydney-based brothers Mark & Tony Carusi purchased Mignard (Strategic) for $18,000 at the 2009 Inglis Sydney Spring Sale. They kept her third foal – Le Romain – and haven’t looked back with $3.89 million in the bank.

“Le Romain was born and raised here,” Laurie McCarthy said. “He went across to Tal Nolen at Benalla to be educated and then came back home before going up to Kris Lees at Newcastle.”

He will start first-up in the G2 Expressway Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on February 2 after going down a nose in a barrier trial at his home track on Tuesday morning. He led for Kerrin McEvoy and was allowed to coast to the line at the end of 1000m.

Le Romain (Hard Spun) hasn’t raced since turning in a typically courageous performance when runner-up in the G1 Cantala Stakes at Flemington on November 3.

Lees said a return trip to Flemington for $5 million All Star Mile is very much on the agenda provided he makes the final 14-horse field. A total of 10 starters will be selected by the public but, if he doesn’t win the popularity contest, Le Romain will surely be among the 4 wildcards selected by Racing Victoria.