Trainer Peter Snowden revealed that Cluster will be set for the 2014 Epsom Handicap at Royal Randwick on October 4 after he scored an impressive in the Forum Group Handicap (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Cluster started the Forum Group Handicap as a $1.55 favourite, but the Fastnet Rock colt gave favourite backers a scare when he missed the start and was forced to be settled towards the tail of the field by jockey Joshua Parr in the early stages of the race.
The three-year-old had plenty of work to do when he was still seven lengths behind the leader at the 600 metre mark, but he flew home in the concluding stages of the race to score a narrow win from Rock Sturdy and Mount Nebo.
Trainer Peter Snowden was not worried about the small margin of the win and told the media after the race that he was impressed with the performance of the Group 2 placegetter.
“He’s done a great job and his sectionals would have been outstanding because he had a big job to do from the 500m mark,” Snowden said.
“There was a lot of merit in the win.
“I’m sure he has the ability to turn in to a pretty handy horse and this sort of win gives you confidence going into races that are going to get harder later on.”
Snowden is set to give Cluster a brief freshen up following his Forum Group Handicap victory before he returns to the races in the Group 3 Toy Show Quality (1300m) at Royal Randwick on August 23 before he has his final preparatory run for the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) when he contests the Group 2 Tramway Handicap (1400m) at Royal Randwick on September 6.
Parr has partnered Cluster in both of his race starts since he joined the Snowden stable after previously being prepared by Anthony Cummings and he is thrilled to be able to develop a combination with such a talented horse.
The in-form hoop admitted that everything did not go to plan in the Forum Group Handicap, but he remained confident throughout that Cluster would be able to record the second win of his racing career.
“I was actually okay with it because when you ride horses of this sort of class they are so adaptable and you can put them wherever you like,” Parr said.
“He layed on the side (of the gates) and didn’t do a hell of a lot wrong and when we came out half a length slow I went back because I wasn’t risking getting stuck three wide.
“All you can do is win on them and I haven’t been this excited about a horse in a while.”
Messene ($9) and Weary are currently battling for favouritism in 2014 Epsom Handicap betting market at Ladbrokes.com.au, while there has also been support for Boban ($13), Bull Point ($13) and Toydini ($13).
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