Khezerabad winning at Flemington (Image: Racing Photos)
The Galleywood Hurdle at Warrnambool in May is unlikely to be short of quality this year with the former Aga Khan-owned stayer Khezerabad also treating the race as the second leg of an unusual feature double.
Last week, trainer David Brideoake announced his smart jumper Self Sense would attempt the Sydney Cup-Galleywood Hurdle double this year and on Saturday at Flemington, trainer Aaron Purcell said Race 2 winner Khezerabad would go into the Galleywood via the Adelaide Cup in March.
"We always thought he was an Adelaide Cup horse," Purcell said after the seven-year-old caused a boilover as a $21 chance.
"He was going to head there last year but had a minor injury and we could have run him but we decided to look after him.
"This preparation has been all geared around the Adelaide Cup.
"He's a big, heavy horse and a hard horse to train but if I can have a preparation without any faults I am sure he's going to be hard to beat in a two-mile race."
Khezerabad had a handful of jumps races in Europe before coming to Purcell's stable and the Warrnambool trainer said he had always had it in his mind that the horse would return to jumping.
"The plan is the Adelaide Cup into the Galleywood," Purcell said. "It's about six weeks in between. He'll probably have one hurdle run and one trial heading into the Galleywood.
"If we win the Adelaide Cup we might go to Sydney but Sydney gets wet and he doesn't like it."
A few punters fancied Khezarabad was due for an improvement in Saturday's Voting For The All-Star Mile Handicap over 2500 metres as he firmed from $31 to $21 late.
After racing handy, he looked to be struggling for jockey Michael Dee inside the 400-metre mark but found his second wind and eventually had a long-head margin over $19 chance One For Later, with two lengths to the heavily-backed Pedro Ximenez ($7.50 to $4.40) in third place.
Purcell said Khezerabad was a typical European stayer.
"He's a horse that's got really good stamina but he lacks a bit of sprint," he said.
"I thought he was going to run a credible fourth or fifth but he picked up and I knew he would be far away."
Purcell said he was dejected when informed the horse was not eligible to run in the Jericho Cup over 4600m at the end of last year.
"I don't think anything could beat him over 4600 metres but he can't run in it," Purcell said. "When I heard about the race, I thought 'beauty, I've got the horse' and then they told me it was open for Australian and New Zealand horses only."
Purcell said, long term, the horse could get to a Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m) on his home track, where he could make the most of his stamina.
"He hasn't had a jumps start for a couple of years but if we have a good hurdling season this year, we'll go chasing next year," Purcell said.
"He'll be able to run an Annual trip or a National trip but wet ground is a problem and we'll have to work around that."