Toowoomba trainer Kevin Kemp’s decision to take Fighting Teo to Sydney last year has proved the catalyst for the horse to develop into a stakes class runner.
Kemp’s belief in Fighting Teo’s ability will get another test when the gelding tackles the $175,000 Listed Ipswich Cup (2150m) on Saturday.
One of the biggest horses in work in Queensland, Fighting Teo had a reputation of being a handful for jockeys early in his career.
After Fighting Teo was beaten as favourite in a Toowoomba benchmark race Kemp elected to take him to Sydney last July and he finished a long neck second over 2000m at Rosehill.
In the 11 months since that race, Fighting Teo has won four races, run two seconds and finished fourth in the Gold Coast Cup (2400m) last month.
“I don’t know if the Sydney trip was the making of him but it sure didn’t do him any harm,” Kemp.
“I have always felt he would get better with age and race experience.
“He was such a big horse he had to learn what it was all about.”
Kemp believes Fighting Teo would have an even better record if he had not been keen to get the gelding into the Toowoomba Cup in early April.
“As it turned out we missed a Cup run and it meant a month between runs for his next start when he got well beaten,” Kemp said.
“But since then he has been racing well with two wins and what I thought was a good fourth in the Gold Coast Cup.”
Fighting Teo beat the promising Chris Waller-trained filly Duchess Of Lennox at Doomben on May 18 and Kemp kept him ticking over with a win in a Toowoomba handicap onJune 2.
“He deserves his chance in a stakes race but even though a lot of the southern horses have gone home, it will still be a tough race to win,” Kemp said.
“On the other hand he gets in with the minimum of 54kg.”
Kemp has a chance to take the feature double with Mr Marbellouz in the $175,000 Listed Eye Liner (1350m).
The gelding was generally considered a short-course sprinter but Kemp has been adamant Mr Marbellouz would run a strong 1400m.
Mr Marbellouz was an unlucky third in the Listed Spear Chief Stakes (1350m) at Doomben two weeks ago.
“It was his first go at 1350 metres and I have always thought he would get at least that distance,” Kemp said.
“With a bit of luck he should be right in the finish on Saturday.”