Trainer Mick Price believes that Nordic Empire can win the Mitchelton Wines Handicap (1000m) at Moonee Valley tomorrow, but revealed that he will be happy as long as the talented colt runs in the first four.
Nordic Empire made his racing debut with an impressive win in the Flemington Equine Clinic Plate (1000m) at Caulfield on November 30 and was touted as a leading contender for the $2 million Magic Millions Classic (1200m), but suffered a surprise loss to Invisible in the IPad App Plate (1200m) at Canterbury on December 28.
Price elected to take Nordic Empire to the Gold Coast for the Magic Millions Classic, despite his Canterbury defeat, but the Wilander colt torn his hamstring muscle in trackwork and was scratched from the event before being sent to the spelling paddock.
The leading Melbourne trainer told Racing Ahead this morning that Nordic Empire had relished his time in the spelling paddock and he believes that the three-year-old is ready to run well first-up in the Mitchelton Wines Handicap tomorrow.
“We took him to Queensland and he tore a big chunk of hamstring there,” Price said.
“He has had a long spell and a good spell and a good preparation.
“He has had a couple of trials where he has been perfect and his temperament is good for a revvy horse.
“He can win if the breaks go his way, but he really only has to run first three or four to live up to expectations.
“He is going really well.”
Nordic Empire will jump from barrier one in the Mitchelton Wines Handicap, but there looks to be plenty of speed in the race and Price said that he won’t be instructing jockey Craig Newitt to take up the running in the early stages of the race.
There are plenty of talented gallopers in the $80,000 race, with the likes of Boomwaa, Gold Force and I Am The General all returning to the races and Price admitted that he considered pulling Nordic Empire out of the race.
“I suppose a lot of trainers are gearing these young horses towards the early spring, but I was a bit surprised,” Price said when asked about the strength of the field.
“I actually thought about ducking for cover, but the plan is set and we will kick-off there.
“He has drawn a gate, will get a nice soft run into the race and he should go pretty good.”
Boomwaa ($4) is currently a narrow favourite in the Mitchelton Wines Handicap betting market at Ladbrokes Australia from Nordic Empire ($4.60) and Gold Force ($5).