A rails draw is trainer Matt Laurie’s biggest concern ahead of Tigerland’s shot at another country feature at Bendigo on Saturday.
The last-start Wangaratta Cup winner steps up to Listed grade for the first time in the $150,000 Golden Mile (1600m) and Laurie is confident the winner of six of his nine starts will rise to the occasion.
However, Tigerland’s tendency to dawdle out of the starting stalls – he missed the jump by a couple of lengths from the inside gate last start – has Laurie concerned particularly given the bumper field of 16.
“I wasn’t pleased about the draw but that’s the way it is,” Laurie said.
“Obviously if you’re going to be slow away you’d prefer to be on the outside rather than potentially cooped up on the fence.”
Tigerland is the $5.50 favourite for the Golden Mile, one of the feature races on the Bendigo program which is Victoria’s feature meeting on Saturday.
Laurie said the race fitted in nicely for the five-year-old who has been well placed throughout his career, missing a place just once.
“I think we’ve got a nice, relatively lightly raced horse who has stepped up every time we’ve raised the bar and I’m sure he can measure up against these horses, as long as we get a bit of luck from that gate,” Laurie said.
“If we’d drawn out I’d be pretty confident he could do the job.”
The Golden Mile launched the Australian career of the David Hayes-trained Jet Away last year and Saturday’s renewal features three imports – Shikarpour, Ancient King and Spillway – making their Australian debuts.
Laurie also has a strong chance in the Bendigo Gold Bracelet (1400m) in which multiple Group winner Spirit Song makes her debut for the stable.
Spirit Song has won eight of her 32 starts, including the past two editions of the Group Two Sunline Stakes at Moonee Valley.
She is on the second line of betting at $5.
“She is perhaps a little bit underdone but she’s got a lot of class and hopefully that will be able to shine through,” Laurie said.
“She’s had a few issues but she seems to be right at this stage and provided that’s the case – sometimes you don’t know until race day – I’m sure she’ll run a big race.”