Promising gelding Bass Strait will contest the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on October 12 after he recorded a comfortable victory in the TMB Printing Handicap (1700m) yesterday.
Bass Strait was well backed in the lead-up to the race, after finishing an unlucky fifth behind Fiorente in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1400m) at Moonee Valley a fortnight ago, and never looked like losing; recording a one and a half lengths victory from Garud and Lord Durante.
Trainer David Hayes agreed that Bass Strait had been unlucky in the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam and was delighted with how the four-year-old responded against a group of lower grade horses yesterday.
“Some good judges said he was a bit unlucky in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes and I agree,” Hayes told the media after the race.
“I think he could have tested Fiorente or definitely run second, and I just love the way he joined in with the authority of a good horse today.”
Hayes said his ultimate goal was to qualify the son of Holy Roman Emperor for the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 19 but after the race was unsure which path he would take to the $2.5 million event; with the Group 3 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m), Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 Toorak Handicap all listed as possible options.
The leading trainer was concerned that Bass Strait didn’t have a high enough rating to qualify for any of the Caulfield Cup ballot-exempt races but was told by Racing Victoria Chief Handicapper Greg Carpenter that the gelding will be given priority entry into the Toorak Handicap.
“There’s a little known clause that says any horse entered for the Caulfield Cup gets preference in the Toorak Handicap ballot, so he’ll get into that race,” Carpenter said.
Hayes was clearly delighted to hear the news and said that he is confident Bass Strait is good enough to win the Toorak Handicap and get into the Caulfield Cup.
“Well, if that’s the case it’s a no-brainer, we’ll go to the Toorak,” Hayes said.
“That’s clearly the best option as he’ll also get into the race with a light weight.
“He is an ideal Caulfield Cup horse with no weight.”
The Toorak Handicap has not been a good guide to the Caulfield Cup in recent years; with Cole Diesel in 1989 the last horse to win the double.