Trainer Dan O’Sullivan has revealed that Tuscan Fire will not race at Group 1 level during the 2014 Melbourne Festival Of Racing, after failing to step up to the mark in the spring.
Tuscan Fire earnt a start in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) by winning the Listed Mornington Cup (2400m) in February and O’Sullivan elected to give the experienced gelding an opportunity at the highest level of racing.
The son of Tuscanos started his 2013 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with an impressive win in the Viney And McKnight Handicap (1410m) at Flemington on August 10 but was unable to produce a breakthrough performance at Group level; finishing 11th in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m), seventh in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m), 13th in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) and 12th in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) before finishing his preparation with a poor performance in the Listed Bendigo Cup (2400m).
O’Sullivan told Racing Ahead yesterday that there were no firm plans set for Tuscan Fire but he confirmed that the seven-year-old would be set for easier races than he was during the spring.
“He is still resting in the paddock and he is having the rest of January off,” O’Sullivan said.
“We will give him a good break and bring him back and get him racing through the winter time.
“We will give a chance at some easier chances than what he took on last year.
“There are plenty of races there on Saturdays that are worth good money but maybe something like the Winter Championship at Flemington and we will keep him over the short course for a while.
“Then we will step him up to more suitable races as he goes on.
“We had a crack at the big time in the spring and we didn’t quiet measure up so we will be more realistic about it earlier on in the campaign.”
Tuscan Fire has previously had six starts over the jumps, recording two wins, and was competitive in the 2012 Australian Hurdle (3400m) at Sandown and the 2012 Brendan Drechsler Hurdle (3200m) at Bendigo.
O’Sullivan is hoping that Tuscan Fire can perform well on the flat when he returns to the races, but said that a return to the jumps is always a possibility for the tough gelding.
“Maybe later on this year but we will see how his form is holding off,” O’Sullivan said.
“If he ever tapers off a bit in his form we will go jumping.”