Consistent gelding Riva De Lago will make his Group 1 debut in the Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Riva De Lago performed consistently without winning at Group level during the 2013 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, finishing second in the Group 3 Liverpool City Cup (1300m), Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) and Listed Luskin Star Stakes (1300m), but has taken another step-up this preparation.
The son of Encosta De Lago resumed with a promising eighth behind Rebel Dane in the Group 3 Show County Quality (1200m) at Warwick Farm on August 24 before breaking through for the biggest win of his career in the Group 2 Sebring Theo Marks Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on September 14.
Riva De Lago settled at the back of the field but showed impressive acceleration with 300 metres left to run to race way from the rest of the field and record a dominant two and a half lengths victory from Solzhenitsyn and Your Honour.
Trainer Chris Waller has been delighted with the form of the six-year-old this preparation and is confident he is good enough to record this maiden Group 1 victory in the Epsom Handicap this weekend.
“The horse is going very well coming off the back of a Group 2 win,” Waller said on his website.
“He is hard to fault really; I guess it is just a bit of a question mark whether he gets a strong mile.
“He has a nice light weight, I think he gets his chance, and he could be one of those late bloomers that wins a good race as an older horse.”
Waller also has classy four-year-old Boban and Doncaster Handicap winner Sacred Falls in the Epsom Handicap and he is hopeful one of his three runners can give him his first ever winner in the $500,000 Group 1 event.
“This year we’ve got three genuine chances again and that will help us be a strong force in the race,” the leading trainer said.
Riva De Lago is currently priced at $17 in Epsom Handicap betting markets, while Boban ($5.50) and Sacred Falls ($12) have both been well-backed.