STRATHFIELDSAYE horseman Glenn Douglas is hoping the stable's Breeders Crown contender Interest Free will be able to lift another notch in Saturday's final at Tabcorp Park Melton.
The two-year-old gelding guaranteed his spot in the $300,000 Group 1 final with a solid heat win last Saturday night and looms as one of the genuine threats to top fancies Catch A Wave, who drew badly outside the back row, and Heza Son Of Agun, who drew one.
Douglas, who will again drive the Art Major gelding, is confident of a top-five finish with Interest Free, but contends he would not be surprised to see the horse fare even better.
"I certainly give him a good chance - Kate's (Kate Gath) horse (Catch A Wave) is certainly going to be hard to beat. He's going fantastic and has proved he is a nice horse," he said.
"We'll finish top five I have no doubt and if he gets a nice enough run, as he showed in the semi, he's certainly in the mix."
Douglas is no stranger to Breeders Crown success, most fondly with the champion mare Make Mine Cullen, whose 40 career wins from 80 starts and $847,178 in earnings included three series finals wins.
"I think she was unbeaten in the Breeders Crown, so she did a huge job for us," he said.
"This little horse has done a super job for us too and he's probably peaking at the right time."
Last Saturday night's semi-final victory was Interest Free's fifth career win from 11 starts for earnings of $40,670
He has also been placed four times.
His semi-final win followed a second in a heat at Maryborough behind Hes Charlies Angel, lending plenty of credence to Douglas' claim the horse is cherry ripe for Saturday night.
"I probably thought in the heats he was a little bit over the odds - he was $51 in the first heat - he certainly wasn't going that bad," he said.
"He's been in the top half a dozen or at least top dozen two-year-olds for the year.
"(Last week) certainly wasn't a surprise, seeing him be able to do that. That is where he races the best, driven with a sit, and with not much work early he can reel off a strong half.
"When we got a lead time like we did and others had done so much work, it only became a matter of me getting out and when he did, I thought I was a winner at the top of the straight."
The Douglas stable will have two other runners on Breeders Crown finals night, with Ozzie Battler, to be driven by Jack Laugher, and Rocco Americano (Glenn Douglas) to contest the $50,000 Group 2 four-year-old entires and geldings championship.
The trainer-driver combination of Julie and Glenn Douglas has been riding a wave of confidence this season and were rapt to pick up another city win last Saturday night with their star pacer Torrid Saint.
The six-year-old gelding showed the benefit of plenty of recent racing against the cream of Australia's pacers, including a sixth in the Group 1 Victoria Cup, by winning the $24,000 Melton Council Sprint against class opposition.
Douglas credited a great drive from Jack Laugher as a key to the win.
"He was driving Better Be The Bomb (who finished second) there for a while and he got replaced on that one, so that freed him up to win on Torrid," he said.
"It was a great drive and it was probably pretty sweet for him.
"We're very proud of where this horse has got to. I think you learn from those big races, the tempo and style of racing in the better races helps them and he was able to hit the line well.
"Probably six months ago had he burned off the arm like that he would have been found wanting in the end.
"But he's got used to that tempo and style and he's thriving on it."
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