After finishing third in the Andrew Ramsden Stakes a year ago, last-start winner De Little Engine is poised for another crack at the $200,000 Listed race on his home track.
The Danny O’Brien-trained gelding showed he was on target for the Andrew Ramsden at Flemington with his 4-1/4 length victory over 2800m at the same track last Saturday week, his first win in 18 months.
“He ran very well last year with a big weight and he possibly goes into the race in better form this year coming off a really good win two weeks ago,” O’Brien said.
“He’s on his favourite track and certainly that sort of distance range holds no fears for him. We’re expecting him to run really well.”
Four of De Little Engine’s eight wins have been at Flemington over staying distances ranging from 2540m to 2800m.
He has contested four 3200m races, including a sixth in the Group Two Adelaide Cup three starts ago, but is chasing his first win at the distance.
“He had competed in the spring at a high level but he’s probably not quite up to the top level of stayers, particularly when the internationals come down,” O’Brien said.
“But this is his time of the year.”
O’Brien admits the gelding has a bigger challenge than last start, going up 4kg to topweight with 58.5kg in the field of 14.
And while O’Brien would prefer him to be lower in the weights, he said the gelding had that weight because he was the best performed horse in the race and hopes he wins again.
He carried 59.5kg last year.
“He’s certainly one of the main chances,” O’Brien said.
“Horses he beat the other day do get a weight swing on him but he did beat them by four-plus lengths. So hopefully he’s got enough up his sleeve to carry the extra weight and beat them again.”
Stablemate Shampion also lines up after being chased down late in the 4000m Marathon Series Final last start at Caulfield, finishing third.
“She’s a very fit mare and has done plenty of racing around these marathon trips this autumn,” O’Brien said.
“If she got any black type it would be a great result for her pedigree. So we’ll give her a chance on Saturday.”