Queensland gelding Solzhentisyn is stepping in to the unknown on Sunday when he has his first test at the top level in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes(1400m) at Caulfield.
The six-year-old will be chasing a fifth consecutive win this weekend in what will be his first trip to Melbourne.
Trainer Robert Heathcote has always had a high opinion of the son of St Petersburg and is confident the time is right to test him in Group 1 company despite his most recent win coming in an Open Handicap at Doomben.
“It’s obviously a big step up from a Brisbane handicap to a Group 1 but his form has shown he’s earned the trip and I think he is a horse that can take that next step,” Heathcote told horseracing.com.au on Friday.
“He was outstanding during the winter and he’s won four in a row now.”
Solzhenitsyn is one of 19 horses entered for what is the only Group 1 race in the country this weekend.
It will be no easy feat to score victory in his top tier debut with quality horses such as We’re Gonna Rock, Moment Of Change, Shanghai Warrior and Pinwheel included among the nominations.
We’re Gonna Rock, who was runner-up to Black Caviar in the Goodwood in May, got his spring off to a flyer when winning the Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) while Moment Of Change won the Listed Show County Quality (1200m) before finishing third in the Group 3 Tramway Handicap (1400m).
Pinwheel will be chasing his first Group 1 victory and comes into the race in good form having won both the Group 3 Missile Stakes (1200m) and the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) last month.
Shanghai Warrior earned a Group 1 start on the back of a win in the Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap last month but will need to bounce back from a back-field finish in the Bobbie Lewis Quality.
Making his first start of the spring is 2011 Mackinnon Stakes winner Glass Harmonium who was last seen finishing unplaced in the Australian Cup in March.