Trainer Eric Musgrove says Our Aristocrat will be “spot-on” for his first showdown of the season with Australia’s champion hurdler Black And Bent at Sandown.
Our Aristocrat, winner of last year’s Australian Hurdle, and Black And Bent who won the 2010 Australian Hurdle, are among only five runners in Wednesday’s Pink Ribbon Cup Day At Caulfield This Saturday Hurdle (3300m).
Musgrove said Black and Bent had “a lot of class” but believes that Our Aristocrat, who has won four of his eight hurdle starts, gets his chance of causing an upset.
Black And Bent is $1.65 with TAB Sportsbet while Our Aristocrat is at $4.50.
Both horses are also set to clash in the Galleywood Hurdle at Warrnambool on May 2.
Musgrove said Our Aristocrat was peaking for Wednesday’s challenge after four conditioning flat runs and posting seconds at his last two starts over the hurdles at Sandown and in the Yalumba Classic at Oakbank.
“He’s taken a while to get there because he’s such a gross-doing horse but he’s going into this spot-on I reckon,” Musgrove said.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with him.
“Black And Bent is a champion but you can only run your own race and hope you are better on the day.”
Black And Bent is yet to sight a jumps race this preparation and trainer Robert Smerdon is aware that he could be vulnerable in Wednesday’s race which will only improve him.
“Our Aristocrat is a pretty smart horse and he’s got two runs over the obstacles under his belt, so he goes into it with the match practice on us at this early stage of the season,” Smerdon said.
Black And Bent, with 70kg, has to give four kilos to Our Aristocrat as he attempts to win his eighth jumps race in a row.
His winning run started in the corresponding Sandown hurdle two years ago and he won the Galleywood Hurdle at his next start.
His other wins included the 2010 Australian Hurdle while last year, back from injury, he won four times over the jumps including the Grand National Hurdle at Sandown.
Smerdon said he was happy with Black And Bent’s four flat runs this campaign and is excited about another jumps season with him.
“He’s going to improve with racing, it’s a long season ahead, but he’s still forward enough for tomorrow’s assignment,” Smerdon said.
“He’s had a good lead-up, he’s had a trial and he’s had some flat runs to try and get him there.”
Cats Fun ($5), Aiglon ($9.50) and Desert Master ($21) are the other runners in Wednesday’s event.