Sir Slick battling hoof injury
Trainer Graeme Nicholson says Sir Slick has a hoof injury but he is hopeful the likely Cox Plate race leader will be right by Saturday.
Sir Slick galloped on the course proper at Mornington on Wednesday morning and pulled up well but Nicholson noticed he was "a wee bit tender" in a hoof in the afternoon.
"I’m fighting like hell to get him right, but I’m hopeful he will run," Nicholson told NZPA.
"I am pretty sure I can get him right and I have to convince the stipes that he is right too."
Racing Victoria’s chief steward Terry Bailey said he had heard nothing official from the Nicholson stable.
"If there is anything wrong with him, we’ll get a vet to have a look at him tomorrow (Friday)," he said.
Sir Slick is regarded as a people’s champion in New Zealand, but Nicholson has struck a lot of bad luck in Australia where the racing public is not convinced about the horse’s true ability, even after 104 starts.
Nicholson feels the horse is much happier running in front and promises a true pace in the Cox Plate with jockey Michelle Payne to get front-running instructions.
"I would like him to go to the front because that is where he is happiest. He can have a breather about the 1000m and put the pressure on about the 800m and it’ll be catch me if you can," said the trainer.
"He can do it, I know he can," said Nicholson, who took outright ownership of the five-time Group One winner this year when a dispute with former co-owner and friend Barry Brown ended up in court.
Brown did not want to race the horse in Australia any more, while Nicholson did.
"I was absolutely gutted about that and I dare say Barry was very unhappy too…but it’s in the past now," Nicholson said.
"I reckon Slick is as good as he has ever been. He doesn’t know he’s had 100 starts, he just loves racing and I like racing him the way I do. Why should I change?"