Queensland trainer Robert Heathcote is confident Solzhenitsyn can pick up his second Group 1 win when he steps out in the Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Heathcote pencilled in the Emirates as the ideal spring target for the six-year-old following a stunning Brisbane winter campaign and he has impressed on the way towards his “grand final.”
The powerful son of St Petersburg was third in his first Group 1 test in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) before tasting immediate success when getting up to his pet distance of 1600 metres in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap.
He was unlucky not to make it two straight wins when he ran into a number of dead-ends during his third-place finish in the Group 2 Crystal Mile (1600m) at Moonee Valley two weeks ago.
“He was unlucky, it wasn’t Corey’s [Brown] fault but he just kept running into traffic,” Heathcote said.
Solzhenitsyn will carry the equal topweight of 58kg with four of his rivals in the Emirates, a weight Heathcote thinks won’t worry the horse he often describes as “the big Russian.”
“Everyone questioned his ability to jump from 52kg to 58kg when he went from the Toorak to Moonee Valley but I said then that he’ll run the same,” he said.
“He’s a big, strong, powerful horse who carries weight easily.”
The leading Queensland trainer is excited about the prospect of Solzhenitsyn powering home down the big Flemington straight, a track that he believes is most suitable.
“I think Flemington really suits as he’s so strong and he’ll just keep coming and coming,” Heathcote said.
“This has always been his grand final and if you go back through his past ten starts, he’s been hitting the line every time.
“Barrier two probably suits as Corey will be able to put him in a spot just behind the speed.”
Solzhenitsyn is currently rated a $6 chance with progressive Lloyd Williams-owned gelding Fawkner the favourite at $4.40.