ECHUCA horse Rocket Tommy will face his biggest challenge to date when he competes in Saturday’s listed Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria Bel Esprit Stakes at Caulfield.
But despite the jump in class, the five year-old gelding looks set to enter the 1100-metre, $120,000 race as favourite, currently priced at $6.50.
Trainer Gwenda Johnstone said Rocket Tommy had earned the chance to see if he could perform at the higher grade.
‘‘Being a listed race it will be a bit harder for him but we have to give it a go on what he’s done so far,’’ she said.
‘‘We’re really happy with him and we’re looking forward to it. It will be harder than what he’s had but we will get to see exactly where we are at.’’
The horse has been freshened up with a six-week break after winning the 1100-metre James Boag’s Premium Handicap at Flemington on March 11, for which the owners pocketed $50,000.
Rocket Tommy has hit hot form in 2017 after a scratchy start to his racing career with three straight wins at metropolitan race meets.
The speedy sprinter likes to go forward straight from the jump, having led from start to finish in all three of those wins.
Johnstone said the improvement of the horse had even taken her by surprise.
‘‘When he first started we didn’t know he was quick, we sort of thought he was a bit useless,’’ she said.
‘‘He’s really come on and the fact that we bred him makes it more special.’’
Part-owner and Echuca Racing Club president Troy Murphy said the six-week wait had him keen to see how his horse could compete against a higher level of competition.
‘‘He’s got quite a bit of ability and he’s settled down into a good horse. We’ll see whether he’s up to it on the weekend,’’ he said.
‘‘He’s drawn wide but that didn’t worry him last time out when he jumped from barrier 15, he jumped and led and went on to win it.
‘‘It’s a big step up in class but every time he’s stepped up he’s been able to improve.’’
Jockey Jarrod Fry, who has been on board for all of Rocket Tommy’s wins, will be in the saddle for the race on Saturday.