Having already proven himself up to class in Melbourne with a third-place effort in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m), the challenge rises for Queensland gelding Solzhenitsyn at Caulfield on Saturday.
The five-year-old is second favourite ($4.50) in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap behind More Joyous ($2.00) who will carry 60kg as she attempts to record a ninth Group 1 victory.
Solzhenitsyn (52kg) has an eight kilogram weight advantage over More Joyous but trainer Robert Heathcote admits it will be tough to topple the Gai Waterhouse-trained star.
“It’s easy to look for the negatives with More Joyous but she’s all class,” Heathcote said.
“People are saying that no horse has carried 60kg in the Toorak in the last forty years but she’s a champion. I’m hopeful my bloke can upset her but she’s a proven top-class performer.”
But that doesn’t mean Heathcote is conceding defeat, with the leading Queensland trainer expecting Solzhenitsyn to be right in the mix as he steps up to his ideal distance of 1600m.
“I’ve always rated him highly and obviously plenty of other people do too given the price he has gone up,” Heathcote said.
“He hit the line well in the Sir Rupert Clarke and I think he’s better over the mile.”
Heathcote said Solzhenitsyn may not be the most talented horse he has trained but, like stablemate Buffering, has the ability to keep giving at the back end of a race.
“I don’t think he’s the fastest horse in the world but he’s so tough,” he said.
“With Solzhenitsyn you can be confident he’ll keep giving and be hitting the line.”
Also contesting the Toorak Handicap is New Zealand gelding King Mufhasa who took top honours last year and recently recorded his 10th Group 1 win in the Windsor Park Plate at Hastings.