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Raising the bar towards bigger Prize

March 9 date is either Group 3 Committee’s Prize or Class 3 race for Raising Sixty-One

Tim Fitzsimmons’ pick between a feature or a Class 3 path for Raising Sixty-One will be guided by his first-up run in the $70,000 Class 3 race (1,400m) on Feb 24.

The five-time winner (thrice over 1,700m and twice over 1,600m, all on Polytrack) has not been seen since his second to Bestseller in the Group 3 Colonial Chief Stakes (1,700m) on Dec 2.

But, encouraged by his bold runs at the elite level, especially his gallant fourth to Lim’s Kosciuszko in the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup (2,000m) on Nov 11, Fitzsimmons has again set the Belardo five-year-old on an ambitious path.

The tentative first target is the Group 3 Committee’s Prize (1,600m) on March 9, even if the yard already has likely hot favourite Golden Monkey and Dream Alliance in the $110,000 feature.

If the short two-week lead-up does not work out, the Australian has come up with a back-up plan.

“He’ll run in a 1,400m race to kick off his prep. It may be on the short side for him, but he will run again in two weeks over 1,600m,” he said.

“It’ll be either the Committee’s Prize or the Class 3 race. Let’s wait for tomorrow’s race first.

“His form is good. He trialled well with Clyde Leck last week.

“Clyde claims 1kg, which will come in handy with his 59kg tomorrow, but we’ll also need a good lightweight rider in the Committee’s Prize if we go there next start.”

Longer-term, loftier objectives are already in the crosshairs.

“I hope to get him into the Kranji Mile, with his ultimate goal another crack at the Singapore Gold Cup,” said Fitzsimmons, referring to the $1 million (May 18) and $1.35 million (Oct 5) races respectively.

“He was desperately unlucky in the Gold Cup last November when wide throughout the whole race.”

Typically sluggish early, Raising Sixty-One has to come under the stick from the 600m mark to launch into searching runs that have marked all his wins.

The all-weather may be his forte, but his Singapore Gold Cup run has opened up more feature options.

Interestingly, among the also-rans finishing behind Raising Sixty-One at his last three starts, including the Gold Cup, was a rival who will now line up in the same Feb 24 contest as his stablemate, Saint Tropez.

The two-time winner (1,700m and 1,800m) is having his first start for Fitzsimmons, after his former trainer Shane Baertschiger returned to Australia in January.

The Not A Single Doubt five-year-old came with some hype from Australia but has been a hit-and-miss type of horse thus far.

His new handler could not fault his preparation, though.

“Saint Tropez is in a similar situation as Raising Sixty-One,” said Fitzsimmons, who has booked Marc Lerner to ride the MA Racing & Hi Vis Stable-owned galloper.

“He’s only had the one trial, though. He’ll also run in the Class 3 over 1,600m in two weeks.

“I was happy enough with his work during the week.”

Rounding up the team is In All His Glory, who will have Zyrul Nor Azman up. The All Too Hard seven-year-old has two 1,400m wins, but stamina comes with age at times.

“In All His Glory is going okay. Probably a mile would have suited him better but he’s still got okay form over 1,400m,” he said.