Prolific trainer Mark Kavanagh, who has dominated this year’s Spring Carnival at Flemington, is now moving his attention to Sandown this Saturday where he is entering galloper Raffaello in the Group 2 Sandown Classic (2400m).
Five-year-old Raffaello has so far been a solid middle-distance runner, having won eight of his 34 career starts with his maximum distance win being over 2000m at Flemington last week in the Melbourne Cup Community Fund Handicap. A determined Kavanagh, still relishing the glory of his Melbourne Cup win with Shocking, is sure he can turn Raffaello into a quality stayer, starting with a win on Saturday in the $350 000 feature.
If he does make the final field, Raffaello’s rivals may include Melbourne Cup fourth placegetter Master O’Reilly and Zipping, attempting his third successive Sandown Classic victory. Zipping will be ridden by Michael Rodd, who had the winning mount on Raffaello on Saturday.
Kavanagh took over the training of Raffaello at the beginning of the year and has run him in nine races, four of which the bay horse has won, having now amassed over $400 000 in prizemoney.
Kavanagh has made a terrific comeback this spring following a shaky start that saw the scratching of his star runner and short-priced favourite for the Victoria Derby, Shamoline Warrior, from the event.
But since the initial setback, Kavanagh has gone from strength to strength tallying an impressive six winners over the four day Flemington Carnival including two quinellas last Saturday.
It seems he has all but forgotten the year’s earlier disappointments that included the retirement of his grand galloper Maldivian and a dismal Cox Plate defeat of favourite Whobegotyou.
Stay tuned for the final field and barrier draw announcement for the Sandown Classic later in the week.