Cup Favourite Soulcombe Begins Campaign in Sydney
Racing Victoria already has the threat of Sydney to worry about when it comes to foreign raiders. The home team too are looking to NSW, with top-notch owner Ozzie Kheir holding strong hands in both territories.
His Melbourne Cup favourite Soulcombe gets going this weekend.
Weight-for-Age Abilities Being Tested
The Melbourne Cup odds have Soulcombe as a round a 13.00 shot at present.
He begins a Sydney campaign on Saturday, aimed at exploring whether or not the up-and-coming galloper will be effective in a weight-for-age race as opposed to a handicap. A handicap is first on the agenda though.
Soulcombe raced to the head of the betting market in November. Then, he bullied his field in the Queen’s Cup (Group 3) over 2600 metres at Flemington to make a winning start in Australia.
The initial plan for the former English-trained runner was to start off in the Chipping Norton on February 25. The Group 1 contest however would have been an unnecessarily tough start. Instead, he goes over 1600m in an open handicap.
A winning start isn’t thought to be a foregone conclusion either. Soulcombe is second in the market, a $2.90 shot behind lightly-weighted Banju who has been well backed at $2.10.
Keir the Owner to Watch
Soulcombe is giving away lots of weight to his main rival on Saturday. Banju carries 9.5kg less on his back, but owner Ozzie Kheir remains positive about the situation.
As well as the main talking horse, Kheir also has three big chances in Melbourne on Saturday. They include Veecee who runs in the Chairman’s Stakes at Sandown (Group 3), looking to get to the Blue Diamond. There will be much more we need to take notice of from Kheir’s roster soon enough.
Kheir it seems is being smart about wanting to test the Chris Waller-trained, Northern Hemisphere four-year-old’s versatility. The team knows that he stays well and he can clear 3200m no problem, but now they want to go over 1600m to see how sharp he can be, win or lose.
As a Frankel – Manduro cross, stamina is not in question. The test now as well as his speed is being able to give weight away.
Kheir has said this week that giving 9.5kg to a rival in form wasn’t the original plan, but the longer-term good of the horse is what’s at stake here as we begin on a long road to the Melbourne Cup in November.
What’s Next for the Cup Favourite?
After Saturday’s run, Soulcombe is due to head off to the Sky High Stakes. The 2000m contest is at Group 3 level and is run on March 11.
Following that, Chris Waller will be left to pick between the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Group 1) over 2000m, or going up in trip to 2400m for the Tancred Stakes. Whatever happens will be fascinating from here on in.
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