Trainer Pat Carey is no stranger to winning feature races with long shots.
He won the 2010 BMW Stakes at Randwick with $26 chance Cedarberg and two years later captured the Australian Derby with $15 hope Ethiopia.
Racing in the same colours as those two Group One winners is $41 chance Khartoum who runs in Saturday’s Listed Pakenham Cup over 2500m.
The winner of a 2400m-maiden at Bendigo in September, Khartoum was stepped up in grade over that distance during the spring and performed well.
He finished fourth to Sin To Win over 2400m at Caulfield on October 18 before running fifth to Qewy in the Bendigo Cup last month.
Freshened and dropped back in distance, Khartoum was a last-start seventh in the Eclipse Stakes (1800m) at Sandown on November 18.
“He ran a respectable race in the Eclipse Stakes and before that was all right in the Bendigo Cup,” Carey said.
“He’s a genuine staying prospect, but is racing out of his class.”
While some pundits suggest the race may not be as strong as recent years, Carey says that it’s certainly strong enough for a horse that has won only a maiden race.
“The current country Cup form is Grey Lion, De Little Engine and Oncidium Ruler and they’re at the top of the market,” Carey said.
“My horse is a long way out of his own handicap, but if he runs up to his recent form he’ll be competitive.”
Carey said Dan Zephyr, who ran second in last year’s VOBIS Gold Bullion (1400m), was unlikely to take his place in the race on Saturday.
“He’s drawn 16 and the track looks like being quite soft,” Carey said.
“I’m worried about him drawn out there on that ground.”
Carey said the soft ground shouldn’t bother last start Sandown placegetter Florida Keys who runs in the Sportsbet Power Play Handicap with stablemate Toan Thang also in the race.
Nicodame, a last-start Cranbourne winner, runs in the Momentum Gaming Handicap, and Shanghai Patrol is engaged in the 2000m Hanson Handicap.
“Shanghai Patrol is lightly raced and jumps a lot in grade, but is a nice type of horse with a bit of upside,” Carey said.