After coming painfully close to winning The Kosciuszko last year, Keith Dryden starts his preparation for a hopeful start in the 2022 version with optimism on Saturday.
That is when rank $101 outsider with Ladbrokes, Handle The Truth, will start in the $500,000 Concorde Stakes (1000m) at Randwick.
Dryden's gelding – who turns seven this month – was just a quarter of a length away from winning the world's richest race for country horses 12 months ago, with the upcoming October 15 feature worth $2 million.
The Canberra conditioner said he would be content if his sprinter with over $1.6 million in career earnings could finish a handful of lengths behind stars Eduardo ($2 for Joe Pride) and Masked Crusader ($8.50 for Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes).
“He's looking pretty good. He's way out of his class, but I've got to start somewhere aiming him for The Kosciuszko,” Dryden told Horsebetting.com.au.
“He hasn't seemed to have gone back in his work. It's easy to get a good gauge on him in a hard race like this against these top horses.
“So if he runs well against them, he'll be pretty competitive in The Kosciuszko.
“I've set him for the Kosciuszko – that's what it's all about. He'll have two runs before the Kosciuszko.
“And if he gets in, whether we continue on or go back to the paddock – we'll make that decision then.”
“They're obviously good horses. If he can finish six lengths off them first-up, he'll improve on that,” Dryden said.
Dryden has put last year's The Kosciuszko runner-up finish behind him, and believes Handle The Truth – who saluted in the 2019 version – has a promising six weeks coming up.
“That one's done and now we'll look towards the next one.”