ANY trainer worth his salt is looking ahead to Melbourne's spring racing carnival, and Brent Stanley is no exception.
The Sutton Grange trainer is already in a winning frame of mind following Red Alto's victory at Flemington on Saturday.
The five-year-old gelding returned to racing with a bang, blitzing his five rivals over the 1200m trip, despite starting as the outsider of the field.
It was the second time in four attempts he has won first-up from a spell.
Assistant trainer Steve Smillie said there was no doubt Red Alto, whose preferred distance is 1600-2000m, had above average ability.
“It was great to see him sprint well fresh,” he told broadcaster racing.com.
“(Brent) just wants to get the horse up in distance and once he gets to a mile that’s where he’ll hit his straps.”
Stanley, who missed last year's carnival while on suspension, believes he has assembled a nice team of horses for this year's carnival.
He insists he has a good group of two-year-olds going through their paces along with a group of unraced three-year-olds.
"I think I've got half-a-dozen horses that could be in some of the major races during the spring," Stanley said.
Heading the list of contenders are Group race performers Sweet Sherry and Violate, who has been touted as a potential Caulfield Cup horse.
Violate has won just once in 14 starts, but Stanley is confident a busy schedule of racing in Sydney and Brisbane from April through June has toughened the horse up.
"If he can improve off that campaign he'll head towards the big staying races and live the dream of the Caulfield Cup," he said.
"He didn't like the wet tracks up in Brisbane but he kept running well and I hope the penny has now dropped with him being a four-year-old."
Sweet Sherry will be aimed at a pair of Group One races at Moonee Valley in the Moir Stakes on September 29 and the Manikato Stakes in October.
"She's a Group Two winning filly that has come back bigger, better, stronger," Stanley said.