Ballarat trainer Dan O’Sullivan has named March’s Mornington Cup 2015 as the long range aim for his evergreen veteran Tuscan Fire who races again at Flemington this weekend.
The Tuscanos eight-year-old is engaged to run in the $80,000 The Spotless Western Health Cup (2000m) on Saturday where he’ll be out to atone for his fifth as the beaten favourite in his home town cup last start.
Backing up for a close fourth when under a length off Atacama in the Listed Cup Day Plate (1800m) at Flemington on November 4, Tuscan Fire put in a brave run in the $200,000 Listed Ballarat Cup (2200m) on November 22.
But getting caught up from his inside draw with 60kg he could only manage to run three and three-quarter lengths off the winner in a run that O’Sullivan was still very happy with.
Now O’Sullivan is hoping a two kilo claim for apprentice Patrick Moloney, replacing Kerrin McEvoy, will give Tuscan Fire the upper-hand fourth-up as he carries 58kg from the inside alley again in the nine-horse field on the weekend.
“I thought his run in the Ballarat Cup was terrific. He loomed up like the winner but it might have been the weight or he might just not have been rock-hard fit enough for the 2200m,” O’Sullivan told Racing Victoria.
Tuscan Fire will face the Ballarat Cup second and third placegetters again in Saturday’s rematch with the Darren Weir-trained At First Sight and Fat Al both in the mix as well, and O’Sullivan is confident his runner will have the fitness edge this time.
“I think my horse has plenty of fitness improvement to come whereas Fat Al and At First Sight might have been right at their peak,” he said.
“It’s going to be an even race and we’re certainly not going to be a good thing but we’re going to be one of the main chances again.”
Tuscan Fire hasn’t been seen in the winner’s stall for 16 months with his last win being a first-up effort at Flemington in August last year as a 100/1 shot, and O’Sullivan is hoping he can break the drought at Flemington after opting not to run in Sunday’s $120,000 Listed Werribee Classic (2600m).
“Both of his last two starts he’s looked like he’s just been a run short so to get him up to 2600 in three weeks might have been just asking him a bit too much,” he said explaining his decision on where to run.
“The other thing is, he goes into Listed races with 60kg and it’s just too much weight for him at that level of racing. Coming back to a handicap even though he’s allotted 60kg, at least I can claim.
“He’s never run a bad race at Flemington and this race works out well for his program.”
Following Saturday’s assignment O’Sullivan is looking at a run over 2000m at Flemington on New Year’s Day for Tuscan Fire.
He will then see how the galloper performs over his next few starts before deciding whether to press on to the lucrative $350,000 Listed Mornington Cup (2400m) on March 28, a race he won back in 2013.
“If he is able to win one or two races then we might go to the Mornington Cup again,” O’Sullivan said.
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