Moe trainer Craig Blackshaw sees two major stumbling blocks for Hokkaido in the VOBIS Gold Bullion at Pakenham.
Blackshaw said Burning Front and Grande Rosso were well positioned ahead of Saturday’s 1400m-race under the set-weights and penalty conditions.
Burning Front (104) and Grande Rosso (101) are the two top raters in the 16-horse field with Hokkaido on 78.
“It makes for an even race if you take those two out,” Blackshaw said.
“All we can do is take the horse there fit and well and hope we get the nice run in transit.”
Hokkaido won first-up over 1200m at Moe in October but knocked a leg in the race.
It meant six weeks between runs for the gelding who backs up after finishing fifth behind Widgee Turf on a heavy track at Sandown last week.
If he had finished in the first two, Blackshaw would have freshened the gelding for the Listed Christmas Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on December 26.
That didn’t eventuate and with a lack of 1400m opportunities in the immediate future in his ratings band, Blackshaw has elected to run him on Saturday with Noel Callow, who won on the gelding at Moe, back in the saddle.
“I don’t think he’s going to win a better race over 1400 metres or a mile,” Blackshaw said.
“He sprinted well fresh and I thought I could keep him fresh for the Christmas Stakes, but now I think it’s time to step up to 1400 metres.
“He’s come through the run the other day really well and once he’s fit he holds his form and he backs-up well.
“He won on Mornington Cup day this year on a three-day back-up.”
Burning Front and Grande Rosso dominate betting on Saturday’s race at $3.20 and $4.40 respectively with Wall Street Wolf ($9) the only other runner under double figures.
Hokkaido is rated a $26 chance.