This Saturday at Flemington Racecourse Mount Gambier trainer Michael O’Leary will shoot for a record breaking achievement when his dual defending champ Glaneuse vies for their third consecutive victory in the $150,000 Listed TROA/Luxbet Winter Championship Series Final (1600m).
No horse is yet to win three straight editions of the Winter Championship Final but O’Leary is quietly confident his veteran Blevic gelding Glaneuse can return to form and achieve the feat.
Glaneuse first won the race back in 2011 when overcoming barrier 14 of 16 to beat home Riceman and Rock Times in the mile classic.
They then went a full year without reentering the winner’s stall.
Leading up to last year’s Winter Championship final the galloper was racing well below par when 10th and 11th respectively in their two lead-up heats.
All poor performances were forgotten on Grand Final day however as they held on in a devastatingly close finish with Galileo Gold to score their second trophy by a mere nose.
They are now looking to repeat the fairytale and break another year long drought with a win in this year’s Winter Championship Final.
They have been well beaten in both their preparatory heats again this season when ninth to That’s The One at Flemington on June 8 and then 10th behind $50 roughie and stablemate Evenmoreaction at Warrnambool last Sunday.
O’Leary only ran Glaneuse in the Warrnambool race to get his horse’s points up after they were in serious danger of missing out on a start in the lucrative final.
“I had to run him at Warrnambool on Sunday and, although he only finished about eighth (10th), the extra point was enough to get him in the race,” O’Leary said.
It was a tough effort too as they carted 61.5kg on a Heavy (10) course but all reports from O’Leary are that they have come through the run well and ready to bounce back at Flemington on the weekend.
“Although it was an extremely heavy track at Warrnambool, he appears to have come through the race in fine style,” O’Leary said.
Their trainer is also thrilled with their ‘ideal’ barrier seven of 13 draw with regular rider Linda Meech, aboard for their two previous Winter Championship victories, retaining the ride.
Weights are topped by Tassie galloper The Cleaner on 60kg with Glaneuse to carry 57.5kg, a good weight according to O’Leary as it is actually 1.5kg less than the 59kg they carried to victory last year.
“That’ll do me!” O’Leary said.