In-form trainer Chris Waller is confident this weekend’s Sydney Cup is the right race for his talented staying import Kelinni as they head towards another shot at the world’s richest handicap, the 2013 Melbourne Cup at Flemington in November.
Refuse To Bend gelding Kelinni ran a credible fourth in last spring’s $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at the end of a sensational campaign having won the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at the track just three days earlier.
“He came a long way in a short time. I don’t know why, he just kept improving, he could stay all day,” Waller said.
Bought back for the autumn Kelinni had three average runs over unsuitably short distances before catching the eye over the mile and a half when a close fourth to Fiveandahalfstar in the Group 1 The BMW at Rosehill on April 6.
Over the weekend they were back at Randwick, where they ran second to Glencadam Gold in the Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) last October, back to 2000m and back in the winners’ stall.
Any punters that thought they wouldn’t handle the drop back in distance were quickly silenced with Kelinni carrying a hefty 60kg to victory on a very wet Heavy (10) track to take out the Listed JRA Plate by one and a quarter lengths.
“I think he’s come back bigger and stronger and that’s hopefully a key to improvement,” Waller said.
They are now facing another short back-up like they did going into the Melbourne Cup for the first time.
They return to Randwick this weekend for another two-mile classic, the $500,000 Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m), having come through their run on the rain-sodden track for the JRA in good order.
“I always say when a horse wins, 99 per cent of the time they come out the other end pretty well,” Waller said.
“You have to have everything in order and be in the best of health to win races, and he’s done that.
“When he backed up in the Melbourne Cup last year, he did it with only three days, which was far from the right thing to do, but he handled it OK.”
Waller is confident Kelinni, currently allocated a much more favourable 54.5kg in the Sydney Cup weights, will be successful again this weekend handing the expat-Kiwi trainer with his 21st Group 1 winner.
“I think the right thing for the Sydney Cup was to run him on the weekend, otherwise it would have been three weeks between runs and he went into the Cup unfit,” he said.
“I’ve got him in the best shape I can and if he’s good enough, he’ll win on Saturday.”
He is also hoping that they can continue on the right path all the way to this year’s Melbourne Cup on the first Tuesday of November, the horse needing to prove they are worthy of matching it with not only the country’s but the world’s best stayers.
”I was confident enough to think he would run in the first three in the BMW and that would be enough to concentrate on the Melbourne Cup,” Waller explained.
“But he ran fourth, so he needs to do a bit more to try and justify going into the Melbourne Cup.
“He’s got to run in the right races and the Sydney Cup is the right race.”
Before their Doncaster Mile Day victory Kelinni was already the $5 favourite in the Sydney Cup odds.
That price has now come into about $3.80, Maluckyday at $5 the only other hopeful under double figures ahead of the Sydney Cup final field release on Wednesday.
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