Former hurdler Tuscan Fire will make history on Saturday when he becomes the first Mornington Cup winner to run in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) since the Listed event became a ballot-exempt race for the Caulfield Cup in 2011.
Previous Mornington Cup winners Guyno (2011) and Norsqui (2012) did not take advantage of their direct entry into the Caulfield Cup but Tuscan Fire is set to fire the flag for the maligned race in the $2.5 million Group 1 event this weekend.
Ballarat-based trainer Dan O’Sullivan told Racing Victoria that he believes the direct entry into the Caulfield Cup may have cost Tuscan Fire the opportunity to win other races during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival but said the chance to run in the Caulfield Cup was too good to ignore.
“Winning that race and getting into the Caulfield Cup was a big bonus,” O’Sullivan said.
“At times I had wondered whether it was a bonus or it made me concentrate too hard and miss out on some other races but we will take the opportunity to run in the Caulfield Cup.”
Tuscan Fire will be O’Sullivan’s first-ever runner in the Caulfield Cup and he said he is a mixture of excited and nervous, heading into the race, but is confident that he has done everything right with the Tuscanos gelding.
“It is very exciting; it’s my first runner in the Caulfield Cup and we haven’t been able to get a Group 1 behind us yet so this would be a nice one to have on the mantelpiece,” O’Sullivan said.
“Everything is ticking off nicely and he will have a gallop tomorrow and pop over a few hurdles again on Wednesday morning.
“Everything has come to plan as we want and we are just ticking over and looking forward to it.”
Tuscan Fire is currently rated a $67 chance to record an upset victory in the Caulfield Cup but does have a number of factors in his favor.
The seven-year-old recoded dominant three lengths and five lengths victories in his two previous runs over 2400 metres and will carry just 53.5kg in the Caulfield Cup – the second lowest weight that he has ever carried in his racing career.
Tuscan Fire will start the Caulfield Cup from barrier number two, which is the second most successful barrier in the last thirty years of the time-honored race.