TORRID Saint has guaranteed his spot in this Saturday night's $300,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup with an eye-catching second placing in last weekend's Smoken Up Sprint (1650m) at Lord's Raceway.
The Strathfieldsaye speed machine, driven aggressively by Glenn Douglas, enhanced his growing reputation with a bold frontrunning effort, behind the Scott Ewen-trained and driven Bulletproof Boy in the Group 2 feature.
The Julie Douglas-trained five-year-old made the most of his brilliant gate speed to snare the lead, giving his rivals plenty to chase over the sprint distance and only narrowly falling short of victory.
Glenn Douglas, who does not hide his high opinion of the son of Shadow Play and Torridon, could not have been more impressed with Saturday night's effort.
"There are a few horses who can say they are on the second tier I suppose - they are not quite up there with the King Of Swings or the Lochinvar Arts - but I think he's on the next level with a quantity of horses who are at that same level," he said.
"Depending on what type of run they get, those horses will be right in the mix at that top level.
"I think on Saturday night, he stepped up that little bit more again - 1:52 is not a bad run considering.
"He only got caught late by the horse up the sprint lane, so I was really happy with him.
"I could be wrong, but that might be a personal best run for him timewise.
"He's probably not always suited to leading, but sometimes you roll the dice and it nearly came off. We were always going to have a crack (at the lead)."
Douglas is rapt to see Torrid Saint, who is owned and bred by long-time stable client Noel Watson, earn the chance to line up in another Group 1.
The five-year-old fared admirably when finishing sixth at Group 1 level last month in the inaugural VHRC Caduceus Classic (1650m) at Bendigo.
Douglas said he was pleased with that run, as he was the horse's follow-up in the $80,000 Group 2 Kilmore Cup (2690m).
"Kilmore was very good, he got buried a long way back on the fence, ran through them nice and generally did a good job," he said.
"He probably faded the last 50m, but in saying that, I couldn't complain about the times and the run.
"It was a super run at Bendigo, we were held up looking for runs. I was very impressed with it, he hit the line very solid.
"We drew inside the second row and ended up four back on the fence and just out of play through the draw.
"I thought he got to the line well - I haven't really been disappointed with any of his runs."
Torrid Saint will be chasing his 13th win on Saturday night. He has also been placed 28 times in his 97 starts for earnings of $185,290.
The Victoria Cup is considered by many King Of Swing's to lose after the champion Belinda McCarthy-trained pacer picked up his 37th career win in blistering fashion at Menangle on Saturday night.
The six-year-old son of Rocknroll Hanover and Twist And Twirl and dual Miracle Mile winner has won 18 races from 24 starts since his arrival in New South Wales from Western Australia and has never been placed further back than third in that period.
While the $300,000 feature will be another big step-up, Douglas insists Torrid Saint has done enough to justify his spot among a crack field of pacers.
"He's really starting to put some really nice form together," he said.
"It might not look as flashy from a numbers perspective but certainly the way he's been running, we always go in confident of running well.
"Probably at the start of the year people didn't have him pencilled in for these types of races - and we probably didn't either - but he's come along in leaps and bounds."
The full cup field is Amazing Dream (Nathan Purdon), General Dodge (Mick Chircop), King Of Swing (Belinda Mccarthy), Mach Dan (Emma Stewart), Majestic Cruiser (Jason Grimson), Malcolms Rhythm (David Aiken), Max Delight (David Aiken), Out To Play (Emma Stewart), Pacifico Dream (Andy Gath), Torrid Saint (Julie Douglas), Triple Eight (Jess Tubbs) and Wolf Stride (Andy Gath).
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