Smerdon’s Utopian Gate for 2015 Winter Championship Final

Trainer Robert Smerdon is confident the Winter Championship Series Final 2015 draw for his hope Mr Utopia is the ideal starting position in Saturday’s lucrative feature at Flemington Racecourse.

Mr Utopia

Mr Utopia is a live wire 2015 Winter Championship Series Final hope from a nice midfield gate on Saturday in Melbourne. Photo: Adrienne Bicknell.

A bumper nine-race program lights up Victoria’s premier track on the weekend for Finals Day, including the $150,000 Listed VRC-CRV Winter Championship Series Final (1600m) where a capacity 16 starters will face off.

Leading betting at Ladbrokes.com.au on the handicap clash, set to run as race seven at 3:30pm (AEST), is the Lee & Shannon Hope-trained improver Sir Andrew ($4.40) to be ridden by Craig Williams.

Hot on his heels in the latest Winter Championship Series Final odds at $4.80 is then Dwayne Dunn’s mount Mr Utopia who is drawn in gate 11.

That could become around barrier eight if the last of the two emergencies Travolta (3) and Relentless (10) come out, the first two spares Kenjorwood (1) and Metaphorical (12) already gaining runs thanks to the scratching of Pin Your Hopes (6) and Clanga’s Glory (20).

That is exactly where Team Smerdon wants the Elusive Quality five-year-old positioned for the showdown, Mr Utopia having won a Heat of the series three back in May before his second to Yesterday’s Songs in Heat 4 and his last start sixth behind Amovatio in Heat 6 on June 27.

“Perfect for him,” is how Smerdon’s assistant Stuart Webb described barrier eight when speaking to the Herald Sun this week.

“Considering what he’s been getting, that’s a godsend.”

The Chris Waller-trained Heat 6 winner Amovatio is the 60kg top weight for Saturday’s final and pays $8 for the win with Damien Oliver in the saddle.

Mr Utopia is only weighted a kilo less with 59kg, the same weight he had in the lead-up heat, but he is drawn better than the outside gate 13 of 13 he had that day and is also better suited to the step up in distance.

“There’s no doubt the barrier cost him last start,” Webb said.

“It was a big run to finish where he did and he’s gone on with it since.”

Boasting a solid Flemington record of two wins and a second from four previous runs at the track, so far the horse is undefeated over 1600m having won both his previous starts at the distance he’s back up to this weekend.

Webb said the galloper was “crying out” for the run over a mile and that his performance this weekend would determine future Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival targets for Mr Utopia.

“We’ll be guided by what he does on Saturday but he could be aimed at some nice 1400m (races) in the spring,” he said.

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