AS Victorem takes it easy with a well-earned couple of weeks off, Port Macquarie trainer Jenny Graham has started thinking about how to get him in the best shape for The Kosciuszko.
Following his win at Eagle Farm on June 8 and a fourth-place at the same track on June 22, Graham decided it was time to freshen Victorem, which is part-owned by Kempsey residents, up ahead of the world's richest race for country trained horses on October 19.
Graham indicated he would have a low-key build-up to the race with an emphasis on barrier trials instead of any specific race meetings.
"He'll be back in three weeks probably and then we'll basically keep to that race (The Kosciuszko)," Graham said.
"I am thinking first-up; I'll definitely have a couple of trials leading into it, but I haven't made my mind up whether I'll have a run leading into that just yet."
The reason for the minimal race experience was mainly due to travel.
"I'm going to have to travel to Sydney and I don't want to do too much travelling leading into The Kosciuszko," Graham said.
"Because you travel down, you race, you travel home, then you've got to travel back for The Kosciuszko."
She was confident the four-year-old would be ready to go without a lot of races and didn't feel it would be an issue if the preparation was restricted to just barrier trials.
"If I get a couple of nice trials under his belt it's not a concern and I'll be quite happy with that," Graham said.
Despite the race still being more than three months away, the four-year-old appears on the top lines of betting.
"It is a bit of pressure, but it's a nice pressure to have and it's nice to have a horse that is competitive," Graham said.
"I guess for what he has done he does deserve to be at least one of the favourites."
And how did a trainer deal with expectation?
"You just have an extra drink," she said.
The race didn't go according to plan at last year's Kosciuszko when Victorem finished in the back half of the field.
It is a bit of pressure, but it's a nice pressure to have and it's nice to have a horse that is competitive.Jenny Graham
"It was a very heavy track last year and he finished about fifth," Graham said.
"He's a much better horse on top of the ground and on the dry surfaces so just how the day panned out it was basically not our day."
The Graham stable may have another runner in the race as they attempt to have Awesome Pluck in the field.
"It's quite funny because (Awesome Pluck) can really handle the wet and the dry, but Victorem is more a dry tracker I feel," she said.
"If I can get them both in I can cover both sides of the coin."
The race boasts a total prize pool of $1.3 million and is at set weights with penalty conditions and restricted to horses trained in the New South Wales country.
Tickets went on sale on Monday.
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