Trainer Bruce Hill is hoping his decision to lower the bar with Grafton Cup winner Warrior Within will be vindicated at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Hill sent Warrior Within to Sydney for the spring with the intention of running in Saturday’s Group One Metropolitan at Randwick but instead has returned home for the Shine Lawyers Handicap (2100m).
Stablemate Startsmeup accompanied Warrior Within in the south where his target was to be Saturday’s Group One Epsom Handicap the.
Hill was not disappointed with the pair’s Sydney performances, particularly Startsmeup who finished third in the Group Two Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm and second in the Group Three Bill Ritchie (1400m) at Rosehill on September 14.
Startsmeup has since gone to the paddock to prepare for the summer sprint series in Brisbane and the Magic Millions at the Gold Coast in January.
The summer series begins with the Group Three George Moore Stakes (1200m) at Eagle Farm in December.
Warrior Within was never a winning chance when ninth to The Verminator in the Listed Wyong Cup (2100m) on September 2 but Hill offered excuses for the below-par performance when the six-year-old was beaten just over six lengths.
“He got smashed around a few times in the Wyong Cup and had no luck,” Hill said.
“It wasn’t that bad a run.”
Warrior Within produced a better performance at his next start when ninth in the Newcastle Cup (2300m) won by Green Moon.
“It was quite a good run in the Newcastle Cup considering they went slow up front early,” Hill said.
“He was left a little flat-footed when they sprinted but he got to the line well.
“I could have continued on to the Metrop with him but I just felt he might struggle in that company.
“He’s been in work since January which is a long time.”
Hill is confident Warrior Within has enough left in the tank to prove hard to beat in his Brisbane return.
“On his work on Tuesday morning he’ll go well again,” he said.
“He’s not showing any signs of training off and this race is a lot weaker than what he’s met lately.
“Hopefully he can win but he has to carry 58.5 kilos which is a considerable weight.”
Hill expects to turn Warrior Within out for a well-deserved break following his 49th career start.
“Unless he wins very easily I’ll probably spell him after this and get him ready for the winter staying races next year,” Hill said.
Hill had considered sending Warrior Within to Melbourne on a country Cups campaign had he won the Newcastle Cup.
Warrior Within gave Hill the one of the biggest wins of his career when he won the Listed Grafton Cup (2350m) in July.