Sandown Racecourse is currently rated a Good (3) but it will need to come down into the dead range for Caulfield-based trainer Mick Price not to scratch out his 2014 Zipping Classic hope on Saturday Count Of Limonade.
The OTI Racing-owned Duke Of Marmalade stallion is one of nine stayers accepted to face off in this year’s $350,000 Group 2 Deadly Design Zipping Classic (2400m), which is due to run as Sandown Race 5 at 3:25pm.
Drawn in barrier three with Glen Boss to ride, the five-year-old comes into the race on the back of a close fifth behind Bring Something in the Listed Bendigo Cup (2400m) on October 29.
Latest Zipping Classic odds at Ladbrokes.com.au are led by Moonee Valley Cup winner Prince Of Penzance ($3.50) while Count Of Limonade can be found a little further down the markets at a quote of $13.
Price however is delaying his verdict on whether the horse will in fact take his position on race day with the track conditions at Sandown the deciding factor.
“He ran well in the Bendigo Cup but those firmer tracks are not his go,” Price told AAP.
Before the Bendigo Cup, Count Of Limonade won a 2050m handicap at Moe where he beat home Saturday’s Zipping Classic favourite Prince Of Penzance by half a length on October 16.
That was on a Slow (6) track however and he’s definitely a horse that likes the give out of the track having shown signs of shin soreness when running on firm ground down under when he first came to Price.
He boasts a great record on Slow (3-2-0-1) and Heavy (3-1-1-0) rated tracks but has won just two from 10 on Good going.
An import originally prepared in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien, Count Of Limonade has been racing down under with Price since the autumn but so far has won just one of his six starts in Australia.
“He’s one of those Europeans that when we first got him, he was pulling up shin sore on these Australian tracks,” Price said.
“So we’ve got to be very careful with him.”
Price sent the horse to Coronet Bay with Eric Musgrove in southeast Melbourne and believes the work on the beach and rolling 2000m track have done the trick.
“If it’s a dead five on Saturday, he’ll definitely run and will be competitive and he’s done some good work down at Coronet Bay,” he said.
In the Bendigo Cup, where he carried 58kg, the horse suffered respiratory issues but Price is confident that should he line-up in Saturday’s weight-for-age clash he will be fitter and finishing better despite the weight disadvantage.
“I know the weights don’t favour him but he’s ready to get tried at the mile and a half,” Price added.
Now he just needs the predicted showers in Melbourne to fall and soften the track ahead of Zipping Classic Day.
Even if Count Of Limonade scratches out, his connections at OTI will still have representation in the field with French raider Au Revoir.
The Andre Fabre-trained Singspiel stallion ran third behind Prince Of Penzance in his Australian debut in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Cup (2500m) on October 25 before an eighth behind Protectionist in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 4.
Au Revoir pays $5.50 in the Zipping Classic odds and will be ridden by Kerrin McEvoy for the first time.
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