Jockey Nash Rawiller and trainer Robert Heathcote agree that Solzhenitsyn is looking for a mile after the tough gelding finished a close third in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Solzhenitsyn loomed as the winner with 100 metres left to run but was unable to go past Rebel Dane and Fontelina in the final stages of the race.
Heathcote admitted that he thought Solzhenitsyn had the race won when he challenged strongly and although he was disappointed is confident that the seven-year-old is well placed to defend his Toorak Handicap (1600m) title at Caulfield next weekend.
“I had my heart in my mouth with 100 to go and I thought we were home,” Heathcote told Sky Racing HQ.
“It was a cracking Group 1 race; it was a real quality field and we got beat a nose and a head and he’s put up super performance.
“I loved Nash’s comment straight after the race; he said ‘bring on the mile’ because that is what he is looking for.
“Nash (Rawiller) surprised me a bit after the race he bashed himself up a bit and thought he made a slight error of judgment in the race.
“I couldn’t see it I gave him ten out of ten for the ride and clearly the horse will be well suited to a mile.”
Solzhenitsyn has been included in the second acceptances for the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) but Heathcote confirmed that the St Petersburg gelding would not contest the race; with the Group 2 Crystal Mile (1600m) and Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) set to be his targets for the remainder of the 2013 Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival after the Toorak Handicap.
“We had paid him up for the Cox Plate because Nash feels as though he would be a cracking 2000 metres horse,” Heathcote said.
“I’ve always thought that he would be a nice 2000 metres horse and we paid up the initial payment but the owners have decided that this year we will concentrate on the mile of the Crystal Mile and Emirates and maybe a trip to Perth for the Railway.”
Solzhenitsyn has the chance to become the first horse to win the Toorak Handicap in back-to-back years since Umrum in 2000.