Clinton McDonald is looking elsewhere with one of his two VOBIS Gold Bullion entries because he believes the conditions of the race make it hard for lower-rated horses.
McDonald has Schneller and Castelo in Saturday’s 1400m race at Pakenham but the trainer said he would probably run Castelo in a benchmark 70 at Geelong on Sunday as he was too close in the weights to the likes of Group winner Burning Front who won the corresponding race a year ago.
The Caulfield trainer believes the race, which is restricted to horses nominated for the VOBIS Gold Series, does not need to be a set weights plus penalties event and would be better off as a handicap with a bigger spread in weights.
“It’s set weights plus penalties, so a horse like Burning Front is a 100-rater and Castelo is a 65-rater and you’re getting three kilos off a horse like that,” McDonald said.
“It’s set up for the best horse in the race.
“It should be a handicap, I think, to make it a little bit fairer for the other horses. Because looking at it, how do you beat a horse like that.
“He’s a Group Three winner and he’s carrying 60 kilos in a restricted race.”
McDonald was hoping the race would be weaker.
“But as always when there’s good prize money on offer they’ve got a good field together which is fantastic for the scheme, so we’ll probably end up running Castelo at Geelong on Sunday,” he said.
McDonald, however, pinpointed the VOBIS Gold Bullion as a target for Schneller who he says is in really good order for Saturday.
Schneller won benchmark 70 races at Hamilton and Bendigo in October before finishing third in a 1200m handicap at Ballarat last Saturday week.
“We spotted this race about a month ago and after his two wins in a row we backed off him and then kicked him off again at Ballarat, looking at getting him to this race,” McDonald said.
“The horse is well, the jockey (Linda Meech) is in form and the horse is in form, so he’ll run really well.”
Lucky Liberty is the $4.40 favourite ahead of Rough Justice and Septamore at $6, while Burning Front is at $11.