Birchley lukewarm on Blueberry Hill return

Liam Birchley admits Group Two-winning juvenile Blueberry Hill was an underwhelming sight when she returned to the stable from a winter spell.

So it is no surprise the trainer is taking a cautious approach to the filly’s return in Saturday’s Iona Old Boys Handicap at Doomben.

“I’d be lying if I said she did really well,” Birchley said.

“She’s probably spelled a six out of 10. I was hoping for a bit better, she hasn’t furnished as well as I would have hoped but that might just be a bit of immaturity.”

As the winner of the Champagne Classic and runner-up in the BTC Sires’ Produce Stakes, Blueberry Hill is clearly the class runner in Saturday’s race.

The filly hasn’t been seen since finishing midfield behind Caulfield Guineas favourite Press Statement in the Group One JJ Atkins, the only time she missed a place in six starts.

“She didn’t have the best gate that day so we had to ride her negatively,” Birchley said.

“It was her first preparation and I had to stretch her out a lot quicker than I normally would so that may have been a factor as well.”

Birchley was hoping to have Blueberry Hill back earlier in the spring but a hamstring problem delayed her resumption.

He still has ambitions to take her to Melbourne for a race over the carnival but could just as easily pull the plug on her preparation if she doesn’t please him.

“There are a few options down south, it’s just a matter of how she comes through the race if she does run,” Birchley said.

“At this stage she will definitely run but I just want to see what the weather does. I’d prefer a bit of rain.”

Birchley will also saddle up Chariot Of Gold and the up-and-coming Desert General in the Nairn Constructions Plate.

The trainer thought enough of Desert General to run him in the Rough Habit Plate during the winter and the horse has subsequently resumed with a win at the Sunshine Coast.

“He’s shown a lot but he’s been very slow to develop,” Birchley said.

“He’s out of a Zabeel mare and he’s training that way.”


Story courtesy Mandy Cottell


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