By Greg Prichard
Scone trainer Brett Cavanough will send his two principal hopes for The Kosciuszko around in separate races at Randwick on Saturday and reckons when it comes time for winning ticket holders to pick their horses for the $1.3 million race interest in the pair will be huge.
"Gee whiz, I'd just like to draw a ticket myself," Cavanough said.
"I think there's a lot of horses out there that are on the market and with still six weeks to go anything can happen, but I'm just happy to be in the situation I've got with my little team. So, yeah, I reckon I'll be fending them off."
Four-year-old gelding Fender, unbeaten in a four-start career, is entered for the Benchmark 78 Handicap over 1200m, and four-year-old mare It's Me, a winner at each of its only two starts, is down for the TAB Highway Class 3 Handicap over 1200m.
Their runs will be timely as we have entered the final week of $5 sweepstake tickets being available for the 14 slots in the race for country-trained horses over 1200m at Randwick on October 17.
Members of the public can purchase tickets via the TAB App or from a local TAB outlet until next Monday 7 September.
It's Me wins at Randwick on August 22
The draw will be conducted on Wednesday September 9, after which the lucky slot-holders will be involved in a rush to try to secure deals with the connections of star horses.
TAB fixed odds betting on The Kosciuszko has It's Me fourth in line at $9, while Fender is also well in the market at $15.
It's Me rocketed into calculations when she easily won a Class 2 TAB Highway Handicap over 1100m at Randwick on August 22.
"She went to a Highway but was measured against the Group horses and on a Group One, Two, Three day her figures and sectionals came back comparable at the end of the day," Cavanough said.
"That's probably where the rave reviews and the $26 into single-figure odds came from.
"She's come on since a trial and the two runs and the third run in she probably just needs to toughen her up mentally if she's to go into a Kosciuszko.
"I want her rock-hard fit, I don't want to be chasing my tail to get into the race. I want to take the ifs and buts out of it and give her one more trip away.
"Win or lose, she's very eligible and quite capable to win a Kosciuszko based on her most recent run. I want to make sure she's rock-hard tough and she will be."
Cavanough said Fender was in great condition, having barrier-trialled at Scone since his first-up win in a Benchmark 78 Handicap over 1200m at Rosehill on August 8.
"He trialled brilliantly, he recovered well and he'll be there to win," he said.
"He'll be rock-hard fit and ready to go with not a stone unturned in his preparation.
"I'm not hiding him and just thinking Kosciuszko. But if he wins on Saturday they'll want to be prepared, the rest of them."