An extended summer carnival campaign for Ligulate hinges on his performance at Doomben on Saturday.
Trainer Cody Morgan is toying with the idea of Ligulate backing up in the Sunshine Coast Cup (1400m) seven days later if the gelding returns to winning form at Doomben.
“He’d be backing up and dropping back to 1400 metres in the space of a week but I’ll leave the door open,” Morgan said.
“If he doesn’t win this Saturday there’s also a class six over a mile on the same day at the Sunny Coast.”
Alternatively, Morgan may decided to give Ligulate a short break before aiming for back-to-back wins in the Tamworth Cup (1400m) in April.
Ligulate was a dominant winner in class six company over 1630 metres at Doomben in November before finishing only eighth to Soxagon in The Buffering (1400m) at Eagle Farm on January 2.
Morgan is prepared to forgive Ligulate’s defeat in The Buffering.
“I don’t think he handled the surface at Eagle Farm,” he said.
“He was drawn wide and never really got into the race. None of the backmarkers seemed to make any inroads but he’s come through it really well.”
Morgan believes stepping up to 1600 metres on Saturday will suit Ligulate better, although he harbours some reservations about drawing the outside alley in the small field.
“I know it’s only seven of seven but he’s better when he can land behind the leaders like he did when he won two starts ago,” Morgan said.
“He’ll probably be back last. The small field does play against him but he still looks the one to beat.”
Morgan is hopeful the track, rated a soft 7 on Thursday, will continue to dry out with 30 degrees forecast for Saturday.
“The biggest thing with him is you probably wouldn’t want to back him on anything worse than a (soft) six to be confident,” he said.
“Once it gets wet he’s not the same horse.”
TAB fixed odds has installed Ligulate a $2.10 favourite for the Open Handicap.