Trainer Trent Busuttin admits pitting Tavago against Winx at Randwick is not an ideal starting point to the gelding’s Sydney Cup campaign.
But neither is racing on a firm track at Caulfield which Busuttin reasoned could place Tavago’s preparation in jeopardy.
The New Zealander, who set up a stable at Cranbourne with partner Natalie Young last year, makes the trip to Sydney on Saturday with the 2016 ATC Australian Derby winner for the Group One Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m).
Busuttin is banking on Randwick being more forgiving than Caulfield where Tavago was entered for the Futurity Stakes.
“I’m certainly not saying Caulfield is too hard but at this time of the year it’s a genuine good three track and he’s a horse that wants the cut out of the track,” Busuttin said.
“If I was to run him on a firm track first-up it could jeopardise the remainder of his campaign.
“Ideally we don’t want to be going up there and running into Winx and Hartnell but there’s not a lot of choice.”
Tavago is one of nine opponents for Winx as the champion bids to extend her winning sequence to 15. She is rated the $1.10 favourite ahead of Hartnell at $8.
Endless Drama, third behind Winx and Hartnell in the Apollo Stakes on February 13, is the $15 third favourite with Tavago fourth pick at $51.
Busuttin plans to sidestep Winx and Hartnell following Saturday’s race and has the choice of two paths heading towards the Sydney Cup on April 8.
Next start will be in either the Sky High Stakes on March 11 or the Ranvet Stakes the following week.
Busuttin will then make a decision whether to go to The BMW at Rosehill or the Chairman’s Handicap at Randwick as a lead-up to the Sydney Cup.
Tavago has 54kg in the Cup and Busuttin is keen to give the four-year-old his opportunity in the 3200m contest.
“It’s worth two million dollars so it’s worth having a shot at and they don’t get the Melbourne Cup Europeans coming out,” Busuttin said.
Tavago has fully recovered from a virus which forced him to the spelling paddock after two disappointing runs in Melbourne during the spring.
“We’re certainly very happy with the way he’s come up,” Busuttin said.
“I’ve got no qualms about what happened in the spring as he got sick with a virus.
“He’s well and truly over that now.”