Hussler faces more weighty issues

Trainer Ross McDonald is likely to have further decisions to make on the immediate spring future of fallen champion Weekend Hussler.

Beaten out of a place in the Turnbull Stakes on Saturday, Weekend Hussler is now almost certain to be promoted to Caulfield Cup topweight.

WTrainer Ross McDonald with Weekend Hussler, after the 3yo's record breaking win in the G1 Newmarket Handicap, at Flemington on Saturday 8 March 2008, ridden by Brad Rawiller.  Photo by Bronwen Healyeekend Hussler is currently second in the weights behind Pompeii Ruler but the Mick Price galloper is likely to miss the race to concentrate on the Cox Plate.

Price said Pompeii Ruler, who was fourth to Littorio in the Turnbull Stakes, would almost certainly back up in Saturday’s Yalumba Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield which would give him another two weeks to the Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 27.

“He only has to have a good week and he’s running in the Yalumba,” Price said.

Price has gone cool on the Caulfield Cup on October 20 after considering Pompeii Ruler would have to carry 57kg at his first start over 2400 metres.

“Basically he had to win the Turnbull to justify running in the Caulfield Cup and we are now leaning more towards the Cox Plate,” Price said.

“We are thinking the timing of Caulfield Cup and the distance of the race being an unknown for him with 57kg on his back is probably not in his favour.”

Pompeii Ruler had 56kg in the Caulfield Cup but weights had to be raised a kilogram to satisfy the racing rule that says the topweight in Victorian flat races must carry a minimum 57kg.

Weights will be raised another half-kilogram should Pompeii Ruler not be declared an acceptor when third declarations close tomorrow.

The weight increase is significant for Weekend Hussler who had only 55.5kg when handicaps were released just over a month ago.

Last Saturday Weekend Hussler was an odds-on favourite when he finished eighth in the Turnbull Stakes carrying 57.5kg.

Despite Weekend Hussler’s lapse, McDonald has vowed to push on with the seven-time Group One winner towards the Caulfield Cup.

TAB Sportsbet today quoted Weekend Hussler at $5.00 for the Caulfield Cup, marginally behind the new favourite Littorio at $4.80.

Pompeii Ruler is still $12 for the Caulfield Cup and $7.50 for the Cox Plate, which he contested in 2006 when on the losing end of a three-way photo to Fields Of Omagh and El Segundo.

Weekend Hussler heads the Cox Plate market at $3.00.

By Robert Windmill