The timing is right for Utah Saints to post his most important win in the Victoria Handicap at Caulfield.
Trainers Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra have targeted Saturday’s Group Three feature knowing that Utah Saints has traditionally run his best races early in his campaigns.
Last spring he was placed at his first two starts in stakes company before winning at Caulfield while he started his previous campaign with another two Caulfield placings.
Before that he won his first two starts at Kyneton in his second race preparation.
“His early runs are always really, really strong,” Zahra said.
As expected Utah Saints was right up there again when resuming last start with a two-length third to Outlandish Lad and Shock Value in a Listed Moonee Valley sprint (1200m) on March 16.
“He’s a consistent horse and should have nearly won at the Valley,” Zahra said.
“He settled back in a bad spot on ground that was a bit shifty and really he is a top of the ground sort of horse.”
Utah Saints was throwing his head around as tried to get room and was eased mid-race to avoid the heels of another runner.
Zahra said Utah Saints only needed to settle better on Saturday to be a winning chance.
“He has earned at crack this race,” Zahra said.
“He’s been stakes-placed three times, has a good 1400-metre record and loves Caulfield.”
Chris Symons, who has partnered Utah Saints to all four of his wins, replaces Andrew Mallyon on the four-year-old on Saturday.
Symons will also ride the Greg Eurell-trained Coldens Choice in the Group Three Easter Cup (2000m).
Eurell was disappointed with the gelding’s last-start sixth to Chasse over the Easter Cup course when he lost his position early and, against his normal racing pattern, had to try and come from behind.
“He just got back too far in the ruck last start,” Eurell said.
“He’s a horse who has got to go forward and keep rolling and I’ll certainly be telling Chris to take a forward position on Saturday.
“That’s where the horse likes to be and he’s in really, really good order.
“He’s been up a long while but he’s holding together well and doing everything right.”
Coldens Choice, who was Group Two-placed as a three-year-old when second to Domesky in the Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) at Moonee Valley, pushed up his rating three starts ago when he led all the way to beat Under The Hat and Chasse over 2000 metres at Flemington on March 3.
The Easter Cup has attracted 26 entries including last-start Albury Cup winner Extra Zero and last spring’s Herbert Power Stakes winner Shewan who are equal topweights with 60kg.
Coldens Choice has 55.5kg in the Easter Cup which has a 54kg minimum.