Lance O'Sullivan, who trains in partnership with Andrew Scott, has little expectation of his talented stayer Charles Road as he lights a fuse on another Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) campaign in Sydney on Saturday.
The Matamata trainer is delighted with Charles Road's progress ahead of the Spring Preview Handicap (1400m) at Randwick's Kensington track but doesn't expect him to trouble the main chances in a race well short of his best distance.
"Andrew and I are really pleased with him. He's probably carrying a little more condition than he normally would be going into his first-up run but it's come around pretty soon and to be getting the show on the road, we have to be running him this weekend," O'Sullivan said.
"He's been back in work for quite some time. He's done work on (owner) David Archer's pre-training farm and going to the track at Pukekohe so he's certainly had the amount of work required to get to his first race but he's probably done too well if anything.
"He's a lot a stronger this prep. He's carrying more condition. He's a very happy horse. He has his attendant Leanne Cox looking after him at Randwick and he really does thrive on the one-on-one attention. Physically, he's really matured into a fine looking athlete now. He looks fantastic. We're really pleased with him."
A winner of six of his 31 starts for the Archer family, Myboycharlie six-year-old Charles Road is already a Group Two winner in Sydney, where he races as Sir Charles Road.
He resumes after last finishing well back in the Gr.1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick in April, a race he had placed in 12 months earlier, though he has had the benefit of a trial at Warwick Farm last week.
"Unfortunately he slipped at the barrier of that trial and he got back and stayed there and that's meant it's hard to get a line on just how he went," O'Sullivan said.
"Often you see a stayer sprint well fresh-up but we're not really expecting that from him this weekend. He's been allocated 60 kilos. We've decided not to claim. We're putting a jockey (Sam Clipperton) on that we're hoping will stick with him this preparation.
"It's hard to really see him figuring in the finish but it's just great to get the campaign underway. There's many options for him but his main target is the Metropolitan Handicap (Gr.1, 2400m), at Randwick on October 6, and we think he can be competitive in that.
"Where to after that, we'll just have to wait and see. It would be a great thrill to see him in another Melbourne Cup. He was seventh last year and for Andrew and I watching him hit the front at the 300m was probably the greatest thrill we've had as trainers. He ran the race of his life and we were so proud of his performance."
Closer to home, O'Sullivan and Scott will saddle three runners at Te Rapa - Andoyas, Tweedledee and Because.
"Because is probably our best chance. He was a shade unlucky last time but put up a big performance," O'Sullivan said.
"Andoyas is an enigma. We've brought him back to the mile and got Craig Grylls back on board. He's certainly got the ability if he puts his best foot forward. It's a race that fits nicely for Tweedledee too and that should have him spot on for a week and a half later at Matamata." - NZ Racing Desk