Trainer Darren McAuliffe has mapped out an ambitious spring campaign for his star gelding Gatting.

The Hard Spun five-year-old is on track for his winter return after a dashing trial hit out at Lark Hill on Monday.

Gatting strided to the front after getting away to a slow start in heat seven and extended clear over the final stages to win by two lengths.

A winner of the Group 2 Lee Steere Stakes (1400m) and runner-up in the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) last campaign, Gatting hasn’t raced since finishing fifth in the Perth Cup (2400m) in January.

McAuliffe said Gatting will target the Belmont Sprint (1400m), the Hyperion Stakes (1600m) and Strickland Stakes (2000m) before his attention will turn to Melbourne.

“He will have a short break after the Strickland and then we will get him ready for the Cox Plate,” McAuliffe told The Races WA.

“He deserves a crack at it and I’m sure the owners will enjoy going over there for a couple of weight for age races.

“I think at the Valley with you know a nice barrier, weight for age has never bothered him, he’s a good on speed horse.

“He’s a good 2000 metre horse and I think that is his pet trip, so we will have a crack at that.

“Whether he is up to it remains to be seen, but it’s a race that I would love to have a crack at.

“He never lets us down and hopefully he can have a good preparation this time and we have some joy in October and November in Melbourne.”

McAuliffe said Gatting had overcome a minor setback that kept him out of last Saturday’s Group 3 Roma Cup (1200m).

“The plan was to give him a good solid trial because he missed his trial about four or five weeks ago and obviously because of that he wasn’t ready for the Roma Cup the other day,” McAuliffe said.

“So he needed a good hit out today (Monday) which we got and it was a nice trial.”

The Belmont Sprint, the Hyperion Stakes and Strickland Stakes, all run at Group 3 level, will be run on June 1, June 15 and June 29 respectively at Belmont.

Julio Santarelli