Hazelwood South trainer Ricky Jarvis will be hoping ‘times don’t lie’ when Rufiano takes on a crack field in tonight’s $10,000 to-the-winner Castle Of Mey final (450m) – Race 6, 8.49pm – at Traralgon.
Rufiano has notched three straight wins since resuming from a 15-week break, including a stunning 24.82sec (Best) heat win – only three lengths off the 24.63sec track record, set by Zachary on March 2.
What’s more, his heat performance was three lengths quicker than the 25.00sec “Boisdale Bullet” Mr. Audacious registered in his heat.
No mean feat considering “next big thing” Mr. Audacious, which has won eight races from only 10 starts, is a Group 2 Shepparton Cup finalist and holds Shepparton’s 450-metre track record (24.66sec).
Mr. Audacious (Box 6) is TAB’s $1.95 fixed odds favourite, ahead of On The Bit (Box 1) at $3.80 and Rufiano (Box 8) at $4.40. Jungle Panther (Box 2) is also in commission at $4.60.
“He (Rufiano) has actually come back quicker out of the boxes since his spell,” Jarvis said. “He’s always been strong – now it’s at both ends.
“The time off racing has really helped; he’s just matured a hell of a lot. And he’s come back a harder chaser.”
“Getting across to the front, that’s the key to his race.”
Jarvis is quietly confident Rufiano can repeat his heat feat, “as long as he jumps and gets around them”.
“It’s a red-hot field… Getting across to the front, that’s the key to his race.”
Rufiano has won 11 races from 25 starts, including a smart 29.94sec at The Meadows in late August last year.
“We’re taking it nice and easy,” Jarvis added. “We’re not rushing him through the grades.”
WATCH: RUFIANO (2) staves off a ‘stalking’ JUNGLE PANTHER (1) in setting the Castle Of Mey heats time standard.
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