The pressure is on at Caulfield Racecourse this Saturday for the season’s opening Group 1 test which will be the first major assignment for Brian McKnight’s emerging galloper Le Remas.
In a nine-horse field that boasts five Group 1 winners including dominant favourite All Too Hard and 10-time elite level champ and reigning NZ Horse of the Year King Mufhasa, Al Samer five-year-old Le Remas is one of the unknowns in this year’s $400,000 Group 1 C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m).
Drawn in gate eight, one inside of resuming Caulfield Guineas winner All Too Hard, with Dean Yendall to ride Le Remas is one of the genuine roughies in the CF Orr Stakes betting odds paying a juicy $41.
The only horse longer than them in the markets is $101 outsider Dance With Her, runner-up to Lights Of Heaven in last year’s Brisbane Cup, who hasn’t run since their disappointing 10to to Shahwardi in the Herbert Power Stakes last October.
While it is obviously a tough assignment for Le Remas stepping up to Group company for the first time the gelding showed they had promise posting their second win on the trot on Australia Day when holding on to narrowly beat home Under The Eiffel in the Listed John Dillon Stakes (1400m) at this track.
It will be an emotionally charged day for Maldon-based McKnight, Le Remas his first Group 1 starter since 1976 Adelaide Cup runner-up Storm Song, and he admits that this horse has progressed much further than he ever imagined.
“His mum [Tylden Lady] never raced because she was crazy, totally mad, and early on it was touch and go whether this bloke would ever get to the races either,” McKnight said.
“He was very aggressive and a bit mad too, wanted to do everything at 100 miles an hour.
“He’d always shown little glimpses of ability though so we gave him every chance and kept persevering.”
That perseverance has paid off and McKnight is hoping they can surprise him, and the punters, again this weekend.
“He’s always been full of surprises, but I hope he surprises us again on Saturday,” McKnight said.
“I think it’s the right time to try him (in a Group 1).
“He’s in the zone at the moment and I want to try and find out which way to go with him long term, it’s a good race to get an idea of his level.”
In his favour are his fitness and front-running ability that might prove the winning card in a field full of resuming rivals.
“If he can find the front he’ll relax and cruise and we’ve got to use our race fitness to advantage, it’s our only chance,” McKnight said.
“Hopefully we can catch some of the better ones off guard and a bit soft, hopefully he will be hard to catch.”
To check out the full CF Orr Stakes betting odds and options and to get behind your favourites for the weekend’s big feature head over to bookmaker.com.au and bet online with the bookie offering you a better deal starting with their exclusive $400 bonus welcome bet offer.