Tuscan Fire spent his spring running in some of Melbourne’s biggest races but the sights have been lowered as the gelding prepares to start an off-season campaign at Caulfield.
The seven-year-old failed to figure in any of his three Group One appearances during a seven-start spring campaign, including his 12th in the $2.5 million Caulfield Cup.
But the experience was a thrill for his connections who had earned the right to have a Caulfield Cup starter after Tuscan Fire’s win in the 2013 Mornington Cup which carried with it a ballot exemption to the Caulfield feature.
Trainer Dan O’Sullivan is keen to get Tuscan Fire back into winning form this winter and the gelding resumes in Saturday’s Listed Anniversary Vase (1440m).
“He’s ready to kick off and we’re aiming towards the Banjo Paterson Series of staying races over the next couple of months,” O’Sullivan said.
Tuscan Fire stunned punters with a first-up win at Flemington in August at $101 and O’Sullivan is convinced the galloper has come back as well as ever.
The trainer admitted there was also a downside to plotting a Caulfield Cup path last spring, which included unplaced runs in the Group One Makybe Diva and Turnbull Stakes.
“At different times I felt it was a bit of a hindrance we were going to the Caulfield Cup, because we were probably dodging races we could have been winning,” he said.
“It’s back to getting him winning again now.”
O’Sullivan admits this is probably a harder first-up assignment than Tuscan Fire won last campaign but said the gelding was forward enough to run well.
“He’ll sprint well fresh but certainly if Andrew Noblet’s horse (Sistine Demon) runs, it’s going to control it from the front and be pretty hard to run down,” O’Sullivan said.
Sistine Demon has won seven of his past eight starts including a six-length victory in the Group Three Victoria Handicap last start.
Peter Moody has nominated Brambles to make his long-awaited return in what will be his first start since winning the 2012 Queensland Derby.