Group 1 debutant Bel Sprinter is gathering massive support as he prepares to take on super star Sepoy in the $400,000 Sportingbet Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Bel Sprinter, who is stepping up to the top level for the first time has firmed to $3 while Golden Slipper winner Sepoy has drifted slightly but still retains favouritism at $2.90.
The promising four year old has created a huge impression with five wins from six starts and trainer Jason Warren has stepped him up in class to test his wears against the best sprinters going around.
Bel Sprinter resumed from a spell with a dominating win over the Peter Moody trained Kulgrinda in the Listed $100,000 United Arab Emirates Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield on February 4 and gets his chance to claim his first Group 1 victory.
The Bel Esprit gelding has a huge weight advantage over the Peter Snowden trained Sepoy who will have to set a new weight carrying record for three year olds if he is to win the Oakleigh Plate.
Sepoy has been handed 58kgs for Saturday and Racing Victoria handicapper Neil Jennings justifies his assessment, comparing him to Fastnet Rock who has the weight carrying record for three year olds when he won the 2005 Oakleigh Plate with 57kgs.
Jockey Ben Melham has a lot of respect for Sepoy as well as most of the other runners but said this is Bel Sprinetr’s chance to beat the Dubai bound three old year with only 54kgs on his back.
“Bel Sprinter’s got plenty of class and he’s so well weighted. You’d be silly so say you’re going to beat Sepoy, but I’m sure that with the right luck we’ll give him a hell of a run for his money,” Melham said.
“My intention is to come out really easy and just get him to settle.”
Melham has a slight concern with barrier five in the field of eighteen and is hoping he will be able to position Bel Sprinter so as to get him to the outside in the straight at the right time.
“You’d probably rather he drew out a bit, because he’s a terrific get-back, run-on type horse, but it could be worse,” Melham said.
Sepoy is having his first run since winning the Group 1 $500,000 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on Derby Day and Snowden said that barrier eleven with 58kgs has set him a tough task.
“There’s not much you can do about it – it’s all systems go,” Snowden said.
“He looks in superb order, his work was as sharp as I’ve ever seen him and he looks great,” he said. “It wouldn’t be on the score of fitness.”
Sepoy is set to travel to Dubai after the Oakleigh Plate to contest the $US2 million Golden Shaheen (1200m) at Meydan during the World Cup carnival.