After a second-up failure by Urban Ruler at Flemington last month, trainer Greg Eurell was left scratching his head.
The trainer had the Silver Bowl Series Final for three-year-olds at Flemington in July as the ultimate goal for the gelding this campaign but wondered then whether they might have to lower their sights.
But Urban Ruler has since put together two strong wins at Pakenham and Flemington to reaffirm those plans and heads back to Flemington on Saturday for a 1600m-handicap against his own age.
Saturday’s race serves as a heat of the Silver Bowl Series with the $120,000 final over 1600m two weeks later at the same track.
“His last two runs have been terrific,” Eurell said.
“His second-up start, I was bitterly disappointed with him and couldn’t really put my finger on what was wrong that day, but he has progressed from there.
“His win at Pakenham was very convincing and I thought if he could run in the money at his next start against the older horses at Flemington he would have done a good job.”
Urban Ruler did better than that, sprinting clear over the final 200m of the 1400m benchmark-78 race on June 10 to win by 1-3/4 lengths.
“We just needed to have another run before we wanted to jump into one of these heats of the Silver Bowl Series, but the way he executed his last start I couldn’t have been happier with him,” Eurell said.
Urban Ruler’s last-start win has pushed his rating up, meaning the gelding will carry top weight of 60kg on Saturday with Tom Sadler retaining the ride.
“It’s never easy to carry weight but he is a big, strong horse and hopefully he can cope with it and run us another nice race,” Eurell said.
“It’s a big job to keep stringing the wins together but you had to like what he did last start and if he can draw a good barrier and jump into a similar position, you’d have to think he’s in there with a fighting chance again.”