Trainer Dan O’Sullivan is confident that Tuscan Fire is at close to peak fitness for the 2014 Ballarat Cup that will be held at the standalone Ballarat metropolitan meeting on Saturday.
Tuscan Fire started his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with a luckless run in the Listed Seymour Cup (1600m) on October 19, but ran home strongly to just miss the placings at big odds in the Listed James Boag’s Premium Stakes (1800m) at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day.
The Tuscanos gelding has not recorded a race win since he took out the Viney & McKnight Handicap (1410m) at odds of 100/1 at Flemington in August last year, but O’Sullivan told Racing Victoria that he is happy with the condition of the veteran stayer and believes he is a genuine winning chance in the Ballarat Cup as long as he fares well in the barrier draw for the Listed event this weekend.
“He wasn’t tested first up in the Seymour Cup and we felt he’d come up really well this preparation,” O’Sullivan said.
“Last year he was running in Group 1 races and wasn’t being beaten that far and it was no surprise to me how well he went at Flemington.
“He’s come through the run terrifically well and naturally it’s brought him on and should have him peaking for Ballarat which was my ultimate goal.”
“My confidence levels are probably dependent on the barrier draw but I couldn’t be happier with the horse himself.”
Tuscan Fire recorded the biggest win of his racing career when he scored a dominant win in the 2013 Listed Mornington Cup (2400m) and O’Sullivan elected to give the gelding an opportunity at the highest level of racing after he earnt ballot-exempt entry into the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).
The eight-year-old made his Group 1 debut with an 11th place finish behind Foreteller in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington last year and he was not disgraced in both the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield and Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington before he finished a credible 12th in the Caulfield Cup.
Tuscan Fire is set to be given a freshen up after running in the Ballarat Cup, but is likely to return to racing for a summer campaign, while O’Sullivan is not ruling out a return to jumping in the winter period for the tough galloper.