Elite Tiger is a possible contender for the inaugural Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Series this spring but the Ballarat-trained gelding has a more immediate target at Flemington.
Elite Tiger runs in Saturday’s $100,000 David Bourke Provincial Plate (1600m) which is restricted to horses who have contested at least three out-of-town races in the past year.
Trainer Dan O’Sullivan said the race had been in the back of his mind for Elite Tiger this campaign and he believed the gelding’s two starts this month after a freshen-up have had enough merit to suggest he is ready for Saturday.
Elite Tiger finished fourth in a 1500m benchmark 78 at Ballarat two starts ago then fifth six days later in the same grade at Flemington over 1400m on June 10.
“His run at Ballarat was really good but he was just a bit fresh and he knocked up a bit late,” O’Sullivan said.
“Then I thought it was an excellent run at Flemington with 59-1/2 kilos, being three-deep with no cover.”
Elite Tiger has the outside barrier in the field of 13 which O’Sullivan says is probably not ideal but he is hoping he can overcome it.
“The horse himself is in ripping order and deserves to have a crack at this race,” he said.
O’Sullivan praised the creation of the Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Series which was announced on Wednesday.
The series is open to Victorian country-trained horses with eight heats ranging from benchmark 64 to benchmark 78 run across the state this spring.
The top two from each heat qualify for the $200,000 final at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup carnival.
The final is a 1600m benchmark-80.
“Elite Tiger would be the ideal horse for it. But then again, if he wins at Flemington on Saturday he might be over-rated for it,” O’Sullivan said.
“He is rated 77 at the moment but if he wins he might go up to an 81 or 82.
“They are benchmark races so it means he could still run in them.
“We’ll see how he goes on Saturday. Hopefully he wins and we can enjoy Saturday first.”