Trainer Jerome Hunter has been thrilled with the condition of Warrior Of Fire this time and has revealed the 2016 Hobart Cup/Launceston Cup double will figure as major campaign targets for the classy gelding.
Warrior Of Fire has more than stamped himself as the stable star for the Mornington-based Hunter through his short nine race career so far; posting two wins and a minor highlighted by success in the Listed Hobart Guineas (2100m) as a three-year-old in January.
Warrior Of Fire was included in the field for a race on Saturday’s abandoned Flemington meet but will instead contest his second-up run this time in the Le Pine Funerals Handicap over a mile at Sandown on Wednesday afternoon and Hunter is confident his decision to bypass the recent Spring Carnival will pay dividends not only this week, but in the long term.
“We didn’t want to run him over the spring carnival as we didn’t think he was up to that this year,” Hunter told AAP.
“His trials were really impressive and I would have loved to have run him, but we were thinking longer term.
“Looking back now it’s the best thing we could have done.”
Hunter is confident his horse’s proven ability in Tasmania suggests both the Group 3 Hobart Cup (2400m) and Group 3 Launceston Cup (2400m) in February are ideal targets for the son of Bianconi this time.
“Fingers crossed,” Hunter said.
“We aimed him for the Hobart Guineas and it worked and we’ve aimed him at Hobart again and hopefully it works again.
“I’ve got plenty of horses in the stable and what I’ve planned for them hasn’t always worked.”
Trialling well in the lead-up to his competitive debut in early 2014, Warrior Of Fire failed to make anything of an impact when eighth in a Sandown minor over 1300m first-up but responded well in placing a credible fifth amongst talented company in a Sale maiden over 1200m.
Returning last summer for ninth in the Sale Water Specialists Maiden (1425m) in November, Warrior Of Fire continued building towards a maiden race win in the Simmonds Homes Gippsland Maiden (2000m); placing eighth in a Sandown minor over 1800m in his only other start prior to the Hobart Guineas.