A significant weight drop has prompted Bruce Hill to give Queenslander Startsmeup his final Epsom Handicap test in the Group Three Bill Ritchie Handicap at Rosehill.
Hill also nominated Startsmeup for Saturday’s Group One George Main Stakes (1500m) but the Gold Coast trainer favours a return to handicap conditions for the four-year-old.
Under the weight-for-age conditions of the George Main Stakes, Startsmeup has 58.5kg and only 53kg in the Bill Ritchie.
Startsmeup made an impressive start towards his spring goal in next month’s Group One Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick with a close third to Pinwheel in last month’s Group Two Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm.
The four-year-old then was forced to lead for the first time in his career and wasn’t disgraced when a fading sixth to Trusting in the Group Two Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm on September 3.
Both the Warwick and Chelmsford Stakes were at weight-for-age but Hill believes Startsmeup will be better suited in the Bill Ritchie.
“His last two runs he’s had to carry 57 kilos at weight-for-age,” Hill said.
“He’s got 5.5 kilos less in the Bill Ritchie compared to the George Main which is quite a big difference.
“At this stage he’s heading to the Epsom but he’ll need to win on Saturday to warrant a start.”
Hill is delighted with the progress Startsmeup has shown since his arrival in Sydney for the spring.
“He pulled up really well after his last run and has trained on well,” he said.
“He had to do a lot of work last start when no-one wanted to lead.
“All the donkey work was done by him in front and then he was annoyed by another runner and still only got beaten about three lengths.”
Toowoomba six-year-old Rothera is a surprise nomination for the Bill Ritchie after the gelding finished last in a field of seven in his comeback at Eagle Farm on September 3.
Queensland also will be represented at Rosehill by consistent three-year-old Denwood who will contest the Group Three Gloaming Stakes (1800m).
Chris Munce is booked to ride Denwood, who has been placed in five of his six starts this campaign including his last start third to the Rob Heathcote-trained Trump at Eagle Farm on 10 days ago.
“I’ll see how he goes on Saturday but if he runs well he’ll head towards the Spring Champion Stakes,” Hansen said.
“He’s been racing well but he’s crying out for more ground and I can’t find any suitable races for him here in Queensland.”
The Group One Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) will be run at Randwick on October 1.