No Melbourne campaign for Friar Fox

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Trainer Justine Erkelens of Muchea has decided not to send Friar Fox to race in Melbourne. Picture: Anita McInnes

THE Justine Erkelens-trained Friar Fox will not head to Melbourne but will be kept in Perth to target some Listed races including the Northam Cup (1600m) on October 27.

As well as the Northam Cup, Erkelens of Muchea, has the Ascot Gold Cup (1800m) on November 16 and the Detonator Stakes(1800m) on February 22 in mind.

Her immediate target for Friar Fox will be a 1600m race next Saturday.

Erkelens told Yanchep News Online on Friday, September 20 that it had been a hard decision to make but now that Friar Fox, who had a disappointing campaign in Melbourne last year, was settled again she did not want to do anything to upset that.

On Monday, September 16 Erkelens said she had been talking with co-trainers Dan and Ben Pearce, who have the use of a farm for their horses competing in Melbourne, about a potential stabling arrangement for the five-year-old mare.

On Friday, she said she was reluctant to take up the offer because if Friar Fox did not settle they could miss another season of racing.

After the daughter of Blackfriars and Pearlesque’s win in a 70-plus handicap at Belmont Park on Saturday, September 14 Erkelens said there were few suitable races in Perth for Friar Fox.

But the trainer said the mare had not adjusted to being stabled in a closed environment during her previous Melbourne campaign.

“She was in a box – she was on course – she never been in a box in her life (before) and she just fries her brain – she just starts walking,’’ she said.”

“Yeah she doesn’t like it she’s just got to be out in a rural area.’’

Friar Fox, who now has a rating of 78 won the 2200m Natasha Stakes and finished second in the 1800m Ascot 1000 Guineas when she was a three-year-old.