Victorian trainer Mark Riley is watching the weather with worry as he prepares to saddle up his in-form five-year-old Gold In Dubai in this Saturday’s Caloundra Cup, knowing the galloper needs good ground to race at their best.
Following a blistering two and a half length victory last start in the Ipswich Cup, Desert Sun gelding Gold In Dubai has opened as the clear favourite to make it back-to-back stakes wins during the Queensland Winter Racing Carnival in the $200,000 Listed Caloundra Cup (2400m) at the Sunshine Coast this Saturday.
Drawn favourably mid-field in barrier nine and due to be ridden by Michael Walker, aboard for their Ipswich Cup success a fortnight ago, Gold In Dubai is currently sitting at the top of the Caloundra Cup odds at $4.
“I think I have the best horse and the best jockey in the race so I’m going there with a positive attitude,” Riley said optimistically.
“The horse has thrived in Queensland and he hasn’t gone backwards since his Ipswich Cup win.”
A winner of just five of their 34 career starts to date, Gold In Dubai favours a firm track and has had just one run on Slow ground when finishing 10th to Rightfully Yours in the Listed Clamms Seafood Stakes at Caulfield last August.
The course proper at Caloundra was on Thursday rated a Slow (6), and Riley is praying that the rain stays away and there is some improvement to the track before the Caloundra Cup runs tomorrow.
“If there is some wind and fine weather I would not be worried,” Riley said.
“I just want to make sure he (Gold In Dubai) gets the best ground.”
Back home in Victoria, Mornington-based Riley makes regular inspections of the tracks his horses are due to run on and it will be no exception for the sunshine state showdown.
Riley is set to go over the Corbould Park Caloundra course today with an eagle eye before discussing track conditions and race tactics with jockey Walker.
Walker has a nice association with Gold In Dubai despite having only ridden the horse on three earlier occasions.
First jumping aboard in March of this year, when Gold In Dubai ran sixth to Zedi Knight over 1200 metres and Moonee Valley and then next start running ninth to Orbit Express in a Listed 1400 metre feature at Flemington, Walker was the one to push Riley to step the former sprinter up in distance.
The Caloundra Cup will be Gold In Dubai’s first attempt at the 2400 metres, and although the ground conditions are a concern for Riley, the distance holds no fears.
“The way he is now, so relaxed and in fine fettle, I don’t have any fears about him stretching out to 2400m,” he said.