Stakes race debut for unbeaten Esperance

Godolphin three-year-old Esperance steps out for the first time in a stakes race following impressive wins at Echuca and Sandown.

The Danehill Stakes at Flemington will determine how far into the spring unbeaten Godolphin three-year-old Esperance heads.

Esperance steps out for the first time in a stakes race on Saturday following wins at Echuca and Sandown.

Trainer James Cummings says Esperance is loaded with ability but racing is all a bit of a game for the three-year-old.

Options for Esperance include pressing towards a start in the Caulfield Guineas, being freshened for a tilt at the Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington or heading to the spelling paddock.

"He's at a crossroads on Saturday," Cummings said.

"We could either pull up stumps with him after the weekend and have a vastly improved horse in the autumn, or we could head towards the Caulfield Guineas or keep to the short-course races like the Coolmore Stud Stakes on Derby Day.

"If he's up to it we'll know from his performance on Saturday and plan towards those targets."

Cummings says Esperance has to date lived up to expectations but Saturday's race is a stern test for the gelding.

In Saturday's Group Two race over the straight 1200m course, Esperance is pitted against the unbeaten Jukebox, the promising Azazel and Blue Diamond Stakes winner Catchy.

"He's got a beautiful big galloping action and quite an impressive turn of foot," Cummings said.

"He will certainly be looming up as a chance at a critical stage, so we'll see how far he's come since his strong second-up win at Sandown."

With Craig Williams riding Jukebox on Saturday, Kerrin McEvoy has picked up the ride.

Esperance sits on the second line of betting at $4.20 with Catchy the market leader at $3.90 and Jukebox at $4.60.