BALLARAT trainer Dan O’Sullivan says British General needs to win today to have any hope of progressing to the prestigious Doncaster Mile.
The horse was entered for Sydney’s group 1 Easter feature following a win in the Chester Manifold Stakes, 1400m, at Flemington before failing in the John Dillon Stakes, 1400m, at Caulfield in late January.
O’Sullivan has given the five-year-old a freshen-up following that fifth placing and expects improvement today in a 1400m assignment back at Flemington, where he has triumphed in all three appearances.
“He’s had five weeks between runs. Last time he rode him Glen Boss felt like he raced like he was a bit flat. We couldn’t find anything wrong with him at home, his blood was good. We just changed his routine a bit, put him out in the paddock during the day just to mentally change it a little bit for him,” O’Sullivan said.
“We only got beaten four lengths so it wasn’t disgraceful.”
O’Sullivan was confident when asked if the horse could win today’s race.
“Yeah, for sure. Callanish will be very hard to beat.
“He’s a good, fast horse and he’s only been beaten once and that was at group 1 level,” he said.
“(British General) would need to win to be going to the Doncaster and I still probably wouldn’t mind trialing him over a mile before we went up, too.”
British General’s stablemate Tuscan Fire, a winner of last month’s Mornington Cup, 2400m, is also in action at Flemington today.
His run in the Roy Higgins Quality, 2600m, will “top him off” before a start in the Adelaide Cup, 3200m, on March 11.
O’Sullivan said the Adelaide feature was likely to be the horse’s final run this preparation, but refused to rule out a tilt at the Sydney Cup if things went well.
“If he happened to win (Adelaide Cup) with a bit of authority we might throw a nomination in for the Sydney Cup.
“That would also then depend on how he pulls up,” he said.
Meanwhile, former Ballarat jockey Michelle Payne scored her first win in Victoria since a serious race fall in September last year aboard Pedinbe at Ballarat yesterday.
Payne, who has had success in Tasmania and South Australia since the fall at Ararat, won for trainer/brother Patrick.