Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra will saddle a couple of straight track winners as they look to boost their winning numbers at Flemington.
Old timer Rock ‘N’ Gold, in the twilight of his career, and Smart Coupe tackle each other in Saturday’s Pat Lalor Hall Of Fame Trophy (1000m).
Rock ‘N’ Gold is a stakes winner over Saturday’s course and distance in January 2018 while Smart Coupe registered a career-best when second in the Standish Handicap on New Year’s day after scoring two weeks earlier over 1100m at the track.
The training partners are aware Rock ‘N’ Gold is coming to the end of his career with Zahra saying he was possibly starting his last campaign.
“He’s a rising nine-year-old and he’s pretty sound so you don’t want to keep push, push, pushing all the time,” Zahra said.
“He’s been an old marvel for the stable and just keeps backing up each year.”
As his racing years have advanced so too have the distances of his races, but Zahra says he is still capable of pulling out a fresh run.
Rock ‘N’ Gold has not raced since finishing seventh in the Shaftesbury Avenue Handicap at Flemington in March.
Zahra said the stable had hoped to have Rock ‘N’ Gold back sooner, but the gelding jarred up in a recent jump-out.
“He’s in good condition now but he’s weighted up to his best, although he looks like he’s drawn the right side of the track with the speed around him,” Zahra said.
“I think he’ll run a cheeky race.”
Smart Coupe has not raced since her second to Whispering Brook in the Standish with Zahra saying the break did her the world of good.
“She came back looking absolutely fantastic, the best I’ve ever seen her,” Zahra said.
“And she had the most weight she’s ever had on her, the soundest she’s ever been.
“She went to another level last time in and she appreciates the straight a fair bit.”
Zahra said the winter series of sprint races at Flemington could be a target for Smart Couple with her liking for straight track racing.
“We’ll see how she goes but her trials have been good and we can’t fault her,” Zahra said.