Solzhenitsyn was far from at his best on Saturday when strolling past 2011 Doncaster placegetter Bold Glance to win at Doomben and that is what excites trainer Robert Heathcote.
The leading Queensland trainer admitted the six-year-old gave him plenty to worry about during the middle stages of Saturday’s Curran Handicap (1350m) when struggling to maintain contact with the field.
But Solzhenitsyn showed why he is off to contest Group 1 races in Melbourne at the back end of the race as he cruised past the entire field to claim a one-length victory.
“The thing about him is he’s not even switched on yet as we saw on Saturday,” Heathcote said.
“He went past Bold Glance like he was bolted to the fence and he finished only a length behind Danleigh the start before who has since gone out and won a Group 2 on the weekend.
“So the form there is pretty good.”
Heathcote, who has always rated the son of St Petersburg highly, said the Cox Plate remains a long shot but is not yet ready to rule out a tilt at Australia’s most prestigious weight-for-age race.
“A few people laughed at me when I threw the nomination in for the Cox Plate but if you are not in you can’t win,” Heathcote said.
“If he goes out and wins the Rupert Clarke and then the Toorak and he’s not entered then we would look a bit silly.
“Realistically he’s probably not up to that standard but it’s worth entering him and races like the Toorak Handicap and the Emirates are certainly realistic targets.”
With Oakleigh Plate winner Woorim out for the spring, Solzhenitsyn joins Buffering as the second major player in Heathcote’s three-pronged Melbourne brigade that also includes sprinter Excellantes.
While Heathcote believes Solzhenitsyn’s best distance is 1600 metres, he will get his first test at the top level in Melbourne on September 30 over 1400 metres in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.