Trainer Vaughn Sigley has earmarked the Asian Beau Stakes (1400m) as a target for Missile Launch in his bid to qualify for the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m).
A winner at six of 10 starts, Missile Launch will make his much-anticipated return in the In Memory of Brendan Ballantyne Handicap (1400m) at Bunbury tomorrow.
He will then tackle the Asian Beau at Ascot on November 3, with the winner of the Group 3 feature guaranteed a start in the Railway on November 24.
Sigley said the giant five-year-old was ready to take the next step.
“We’ve got our hearts set on the Railway,” Sigley said.
“I’m hoping he runs well enough in the Asian Beau to get in the Railway.
“If not, we’ll look at a staying prep. There’s the Perth Cup or we could put the cue back in the rack and come back for the Bunbury and Pinjarra cups.
“Paddy (Carbery) thought he’ll stay all along, but he’s unbeaten over a mile.
“He doesn’t need to improve a hell of a lot to be knocking on the door of the big ones.”
Missile Launch notched back-to-back wins at Ascot in May, but a hoof abscess was to blame for his last-start failure when he was eighth behind Galaxy Star at Belmont Park.
The Smart Missile gelding impressed in a Lark Hill trial last week with a close second behind Ragazzo D’Oro.
“He ran second first-up last time in and probably needed it,” Sigley said.
“He could be in the same boat again, but I’m happier with him this time in. He looks good. When he was spelling he had an abscess blow out which he had trouble with last prep.”
Missile Launch is a $4.80 chance for tomorrow’s race. He jumps from barrier three with Patrick Carbery booked to ride.
Meanwhile, stewards will monitor the Bunbury track in the lead-up to tomorrow’s standalone meeting with rain forecast today and tomorrow.
Bunbury Turf Club chief executive Alex Doble said the track was better equipped to handle rain after drainage upgrades in the past two years.
“Hopefully Mother Nature’s on our side, but I don’t think the meeting will be at risk,” Doble said.
“We’ve safeguarded the track with drainage upgrades.”
Jockey Peter Knuckey will miss Ascot’s opening day meeting tomorrow week after he was suspended for 10 days for careless riding at York yesterday.