Alexiou Counting On Grebeni’s Quality To Overcome Adversity

There’s no doubt from co-trainer Sterling Alexiou that lightly raced galloper Grebeni is high on potential but he’s wary of the need to overcome some obstacles to win at Rosehill on Saturday.

Trainer Sterling Alexiou (Pic: Grant Guy)

As promising as the three-year-old is, Alexiou says the starting point for the Furphy Handicap (1800m) will make things interesting given where he’s likely to find himself in the run.

Grebeni, $3.60 with TAB on Thursday, drew barrier 10 and while he is a horse that tends to race midfield or worse jockey Kerrin McEvoy may need to weave some early magic.

“It’s his first time in Saturday grade and while we expect him to be very hard to beat they’ve still got to take that step class wise,’’ Alexiou said.

“It’s a notoriously tricky start at the 1800m, he’s still going to have to do everything right and get a few favours but if that’s the case then we can expect him to be right in the finish.

“I think the tempo of the race won’t be a problem, it’ll be where he’s positioned in respect to some of the others.

“There looks a bit of a tail and if you’re a backmarker sitting behind those horses you’ve got to make your run yourself.”

The gelding produced an eye-catching first-up second over 1300m at Kembla Grange before sweeping home to victory at the Warwick Farm mile on May 17.

He clocked 34.83 for his last 600m (Punter’s Intelligence), over three lengths faster than his nearest rival, and 11.52 for his last 200m at the end of the 1600m.

“We’ve always had a fair opinion of him and he raced well in his last preparation, without luck on a couple of occasions,’’ Alexiou said.

“We’ve been really happy with both his first-up and second-up runs. He steps out to 1800m and he will be a horse that will appreciate that.

“The other day up to a mile Jason (Collett) gave him a really good steer and he ran some of the best sectionals.

“That seems to be something he has in his arsenal, a turn of foot, and at this time of year if you’ve got a turn of foot it can get you out of big trouble.”

Stablemate Deficit doesn’t have the ideal set up in the Schweppes Handicap (1500m), also drawn wide, but Alexiou said he’s already shown he’s in for a handy preparation with his return two weeks ago.

The four-year-old was beaten 1-1/4 lengths by Cotehele in a Benchmark 88 and drops to 78 grade on Saturday but with that comes a 5kg weight rise.

“It was our preference to run him in the open mile next Saturday where he’ll probably line up against Steely and Cisco Bay but with the big field on Saturday just gone, and his low rating, there’s a chance he might miss the run,’’ he said.

“He’s quite a small horse so carrying that weight could be a hindrance. If he’s not far away on Saturday we can expect him to improve a lot.

“He’s notoriously a poor performer first-up but we trialled him twice this time in before he went to the races and that’s the best he’s gone for us. He improves deep into his preparation.”

– Racing NSW

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