Matamata-trained stayer Sir Charles Road will step out at Caulfield on Saturday in the Gr.3 East Malvern Bendigo Bank MRC Foundation Cup (2000m), a race where the winner gains ballot exempt status for next month's Gr.1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).
Prepared by Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott, Sir Charles Road has had two runs back from a spell and impressed when lumping 60.5kgs to victory in the Reliable Man Trophy (1600m) at Hastings at the beginning of the month.
“That win probably exceeded expectations with the weight on his back,” O’Sullivan said.
“Had he run fourth or fifth we would have been happy. Sam (Weatherley) gave him a very economical ride, but he still had to quicken under the weight and that was the encouraging part.”
O’Sullivan said Sir Charles Road arrived in Melbourne last Sunday and has settled in well at Mike Moroney’s Flemington stable.
“I’m really pleased with him. He went a little bit of even time and quickened a little bit this morning and he looks happy,” he said.
“He’s a tradesman-like trackworker but his action is good.”
Dwayne Dunn will take the ride on Saturday, with the hoop in top form at present with 16 winners from his last 107 rides.
“I had a bit of a chat to Dwayne this morning and he was going to look at the field,” O’Sullivan said.
“As far as instructions go I will be leaving it up to him. He knows the opposition and knows the track.”
The versatile five-year-old gelding won the Gr.2 Chairman’s Quality (2600m) in autumn, and also placed in the Gr.1 Sydney Cup (3200m), but is 53rd on the order of entry for the Caulfield Cup and 47th for the Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
“I thought if he measures up here, the Caulfield Cup would be the ideal race for him. He is a fast staying horse and probably better suited to the mile-and-a-half than the two miles.
“I think we need to see how he performs on Saturday and how he comes through it. You’d like to see him run well. After that we will discuss it further with his owner David Archer and make a plan.”
While O’Sullivan is pleased with his progressive, young team at home, he said Sir Charles Road was likely to be the stable’s only runner in Melbourne this spring.
“We have some good talent coming through and hopefully in the autumn we will have a horse worthy of getting on a plane and going over to Australia.
“We want to give our owners the opportunity to run at the carnivals in Australia. It is something Andrew and I have concentrated on.”
O’Sullivan also weighed-in on the changing dynamic of the Melbourne Cup, with a glut of international raiders meaning the race no longer has the narrative that has endeared itself to so many in Australasian culture.
“It’s lost its appeal to me personally. I don’t know how other people feel, but only because I just don’t know the horses,” he said.
“Unless you are really studying the international form and following them you have no idea.
“The European horses have certainly shown in the past they can run out a strong two miles. It has changed, it is not like it was. Has is changed for the better? I don’t know.
“It is certainly far more difficult these days to qualify (for the Cup) racing in New Zealand.” - NZ Racing Desk