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Linton Will Miss The 2010 Makybe Diva Stakes

Article By Robert Windmill

Exciting four-year-old Linton will avoid the top horses in the 2010 Makybe Diva Stakes and pursue an easier first-up assignment at Flemington.

The Galileo gelding was one of five horses nominated for Saturday’s 1600m Group Two event by leading owner Lloyd Williams who is happy to take a low-key approach with the Australian Guineas placegetter in the 2010 Voodoo Plate (1400m).

“He is a handicap horse and only rated 99 for the time being,” Williams said.

He said that Linton had matured since the autumn and was looking forward to ramping him up in distance.

“He is probably crying out for further,” Williams said,.

“He’s matured in the last six months and is probably a mile and quarter (2000m) and mile and half horse (2400m), I would think.

“It might be a bit short (on Saturday) but Flemington is a good place to start him.”

Williams said Linton’s second spring start was likely to be over 2000 metres in the Group Three Naturalism Stakes at Caulfield on September 18.

“He will probably run in the Caulfield Cup. We will see. It depends on how is going,” he said.

“He’s a good horse, a natural, but whether this is his program or the autumn is his program we will let him tell us.

“He has only had four race starts but at the moment I am happy with him.”

Linton’s two wins have been in a maiden at Cranbourne at his second run and the Group Two Alister Clark Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley at his third.

He was spelled after his last-start third to Rock Classic and Set For Fame in the Group One Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 13.

Nick Hall has retained the ride on Saturday.

He will also ride stablemate Mourayan in the Makybe Diva while Dan Nikolic and Steven Arnold will ride Williams’ other runners C’est La Guerre and Alandi respectively.

Star European stayers Mourayan and Alandi had acclimatising runs with down track finishes in the Straight Six (1200m) at Flemington in May and Williams isn’t expecting much from the pair again on Saturday.

“They have come on but look for them in six to eight weeks time,” Williams said.

He predicted that 2008 Melbourne Cup placegetter C’est La Guerre, who was fourth in last year’s Makybe Diva, would run an improved race on Saturday after his first-up 12th to Shoot Out in the Liston Stakes on August 14.

“He was a bit fresh and was up in the first two or three last start whereas he is normally last,” Williams said.

“He will run a lot better this week.”

Williams also entered emerging stayer Rundle for the Makybe Diva Stakes but will instead run him first-up over 1700 metres in the Spring Is The Season Handicap.

“He has won three of his four starts and is not a bad horse,” Williams said.

Last start he beat WA Derby winner Chartreux and SA Derby placegetter Sea Galleon in the Galilee Series Final (2500m) at Flemington in April.

“I would be surprised if he doesn’t step up to reasonable handicap company,” Williams said.