It looms as a crucial weekend for OTI Racing with the potential of confirming a budding superstar as well as unveiling a genuine Melbourne Cup hope and of welcoming in an unlikely Group 1 winner.
First on the priority list for the OTI team is always the Melbourne Cup and this weekend the European-based stayer Amade can all but clinch a spot in November’s big race when he takes on the Americans in the Group 2 Belmont Gold Cup.
Certainly, OTI boss Terry Henderson is hoping the Alessandro Botti-trained galloper can do so.
“We know these European stayers tend to be more dominant than the American ones and looking at the form, he looks to be really well placed in this race,” Henderson said from Sandown on Wednesday.
“It’s a Group 2 race and a win there would probably take him up to (an international rating of) 112-to-114 mark and that makes him a serious Melbourne Cup horse.
“Red Cardinal won it a couple of years ago. It’s on a flat track (the same as Flemington) so we get a good assessment of that and it’s also left-handed – the Melbourne way of running – so we’ll get a pretty good idea.”
OTI Racing purchased the stayer earlier this year with the idea of qualifying him for the Melbourne Cup.
Closer to home, on Friday on Day 1 of the Swan Hill Carnival, the familiar OTI colours of navy blue and gold hoops will be carried by the impressive unbeaten import Harbour Views in a lowly Benchmark 70.
Despite winning his two races at Warrnambool and Bendigo in canters, Henderson was wary of putting the cart before the horse and said a race like the Ballarat Cup was as high as the stable was likely to aim this spring.
“I don’t know, but I am always reluctant to boost a horse that’s won just a (Benchmark) 0-64 and he’ll probably start 1-5 ($1.20) or worse up at Swan Hill, so I don’t really know (how good he is),” he said.
“I don’t think we’ll know until gets into the Spring Carnival. There’s a race for him at Flemington for him prior to the Ballarat Cup and that’s probably the time we can say he’s a good horse.
“He’s a very exciting horse and it’s great for our owners to be involved in such a horse.”
Henderson said the Swan Hill trip was important as part of the horse’s education.
“We wanted to give him a bit of a trip away – be away overnight,” he said. “He’s quite a green, immature horse mentally and so we’ve taken it very slowly. But a trip away is always good for a horse.
“We’ll give him a three-week spell after that race and bring him back for a race like the Ballarat Cup.”
Group 1 races are hard to win and that is certainly the case for Tom Melbourne, who has his 12th attempt at the elite level in Saturday’s Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm.
Henderson said he felt the horse that is famous for running second was showing signs that he was ready for a career best on Saturday.
“It’s amazing as in the jumpouts and even this week, Chris (Waller) said, he settles in behind them well,” he said.
“It’s that race-day pressure but the plan will be to sit him back and sit him in and obviously, you ride him for luck.
“He’s really well in at 53.5 (kilograms). I think it’s a luxury weight for a horse of that quality.”
However, Henderson knows that Tom Melbourne can often find one better so has not set the bar of expectation too high.
“We’ll be happy with second,” he said.
Article by Andrew Eddy & Carl Di Iorio from Racing.com