It’s already been a very successful preparation for the Robert and Luke Price-trained Count De Rupee with a lucrative second in the Golden Eagle, but the Kembla Grange-based pair are aiming to go one better in the $1 million The Gong on their home surface this Saturday.
The $145,000 yearling purchase was only just narrowly chased down in the $7.5 million feature picking up $1.5 million in the process, and co-trainer Luke Price is more than happy with how he has come through the run.
“He’s had a good couple of weeks since the Golden Eagle,” Price said.
“He’s fourth-up and there’s still another big run in him I feel.
“The fact that it’s a million dollar race at your home track, it makes it very tempting to go there.
“It’s fantastic for the area, let alone to have a local horse in it, and hopefully we can get the locals out there to support him and cheer him home.”
Prior to the Golden Eagle effort, the four-year-old gelding was absolutely poleaxed in the lead-up Silver Eagle but still managed to hit the line for a brave third. Price was extremely relieved to see how his charger handled the ordeal.
“I was obviously very concerned after that race,” Price said.
“But when he bounced back the way he did, it has certainly taken him to another level.
“He’s really standing up and putting his hand up as being a very good horse.”
Despite being a race where apprentices can’t claim, Price is sticking with regular rider Brock Ryan and believes it could be a local celebration if they were to win the big race.
“His apprenticeship is over in three week’s time,” Price said.
“He works really hard for the stable and he knows the horse inside out.
“He’s given the horse two peach of a rides this prep, and he’s a home town boy. It would be just as special for him as it would be for us to win that race on Saturday.”
As for the future, Price is looking forward to more successes with his team and believes the best is yet to come with his Real Impact gelding.
“Last prep as a three-year-old he would take a little time to recover from his runs but he’s bouncing through them a lot better these days as a four-year-old,” Price said.
“You dream of having good horses in your stable, that’s why you do it.
“It’s very exciting to have a horse that we’re going to be doing that with over the next couple of years.”
As of Wednesday, Count De Rupee is $3.40 favourite with the TAB with I Am Superman and Atishu sitting on the second line at $7.