Grey Lion has been getting closer to his first Australian win in recent starts and trainer Matt Cumani is hoping the imported stayer can achieve it on his home track in the Ballarat Cup.
Cumani believes Grey Lion has continued to improve this spring as he prepares for his seventh start of the campaign in Saturday’s $300,000 Listed 2200m Ballarat Cup.
The six-year-old was beaten three lengths when third in the Cranbourne Cup (2000m) three starts ago before finishing just over a length fourth in the Geelong Cup (2400m).
Grey Lion met Geelong Cup winner Vengeur Masque again in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) at Flemington last start and appeared to get his head in front in the straight only for his rival to respond and deny him by three-quarters of a length.
“I think he’s getting better and better with racing,” Cumani said.
“He really seems to be improving with every run so I’m hopeful that he’s still improving into the Ballarat Cup.”
Grey Lion races in the colours of OTI Racing who have been big supporters of Cumani and the horse was bought with a view to the feature spring races.
Lucrative country Cups have also been in Cumani’s mind for Grey Lion who gets his latest chance on Saturday to snare the trainer his first stakes win.
“Obviously we had to challenge him and I was pleased that in the Queen Elizabeth he showed he was up to it,” Cumani said.
“But these country Cups are winnable for him.
“I think he’s got a good chance and I can’t wait to see him run in it on Saturday.
“If he was a horse that ran from the back of the field then I would be worried dropping back in trip.
“But being a horse that likes to be out on the pace, so long as he can get out on the pace out of the barriers then I’m hopeful it won’t be a problem.”
The Ballarat Cup has 28 nominations and while Cumani believes the horse is thriving and in the right form to put in a strong showing, he is not underestimating the strength of the race.
“Those sorts of races are actually seriously tough,” he said.