Melbourne Cup hopeful Who Shot Thebarman is set to start his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign in the Canterbury Hurlstone Park RSL Club Handicap (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens and trainer Chris Waller believes that the talented Kiwi stayer still has a long way to go until he is at his peak.
Who Shot Thebarman has been restricted to just ten race starts, but he stamped himself as a stayer to watch with impressive victories in the Group 2 Avondale Gold Cup (2400m) at Ellerslie on February 15 and the Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) at the same venue on March 8.
The Yamanin Vital gelding made his racing debut with a fair performance in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick on April 19 and he remained in Sydney to begin preparations for the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) under the care of Waller.
Waller admits that 1400 metres is well short of Who Shot Thebarman’s pet distance, but he has been impressed with the speed that the six-year-old has shown during his trackwork and is hoping that he can finish strongly in the Canterbury Hurlstone Park RSL Club Handicap this afternoon.
“He’s on a Melbourne Cup path,” Waller said.
“There’s a long way to go and a lot of improvement will be needed, but he’s a Group 1 winner in New Zealand over two miles, so that’s a big step in the right direction
“He’s settled in very well; He came to us in great shape, his trials have been good and he’s showed a bit of speed.
“He does have a big weight, he does have a wide draw and I guess he’ll just get back and run home.
“He’s got some class on side.”
Imported stayer Opinion will also be returning to the races for the first time since the Sydney Cup and the Oasis Dream gelding is expected to follow a similar path to Who Shot Thebarman during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.
Opinion finished a fast-finishing second behind The Offer in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) and beat the highly-rated Carlton House to win the Parramatta Cup (1900m) during the autumn, but Waller is still not sure the five-year-old is good enough to qualify for the Melbourne Cup.
“He is almost identical to Who Shot The Barman,” Waller said.
“He has come back better, he has drawn wide and he is running first-up.
“I’m don’t know about a Melbourne Cup path, but if he improves he would deserve to be there.”
Who Shot Thebarman ($26) and Opinion ($51) are both rated outsiders in betting for the Canterbury Hurlstone Park RSL Club Handicap, while Entirely Platinum ($2.05) has been extremely well-backed.