Exceptionally kicks off campaign at Valley
Mathew Toogood
06:57 AEST Sat Jun 29 2013

A race restricted to junior riders will be the kick-off event for veteran staying mare Exceptionally at Moonee Valley on Saturday.

A rising seven-year-old, Exceptionally resumes in the $80,000 Travis Harrison Cup - an annual race named in honour of the Victorian apprentice who died in a car accident in 1996.

Terry O'Sullivan, who trains in partnership with his daughter Karina, says the timing of the 1600m event suits Exceptionally who missed the autumn after having arthroscopic surgery on a fetlock which her co-trainer said wasn't major.

"We think she's coming up excellent," O'Sullivan said.

"Last year she had a couple of runs in winter and she didn't appear to do much, but then she started to really hit her straps.

"I wouldn't be surprised if it takes her a couple of runs to hit top form but I just hope to see her running on strongly tomorrow."

Last spring Exceptionally was thereabouts in a number of important staying races but failed to qualify for the major Cups.

She was third in the Naturalism Stakes and Herbert Power Stakes, races which hold Caulfield Cup ballot exemption to the winner.

The mare also filled the minor placing in the Lexus Stakes, where the winner gets a free pass into the Melbourne Cup.

While a Melbourne Cup berth would be "the ultimate" for Exceptionally this year, O'Sullivan is unsure whether it is achievable.

"Whether she can get there at her age, I'm not sure," he said.

Ryan Hurdle takes 3kg off Exceptionally's 61kg in a race where the resuming mare is one of the outsiders at $21.

The Chris Waller-trained Pipette is favourite and has the services of Melbourne's top apprentice Chad Schofield, the only non-claiming rider in the race.

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