Chasm set to bridge the gap

Injury-prone galloper Chasm has recaptured his best form this campaign and is ready to take it to a new level in the Group One Toorak Handicap.

Trainer Heath Conners believes that after a frustrating 12 months he has finally got the six-year-old right again for his second crack at the 1600-metre feature at Caulfield on Saturday.

Last year Chasm was beaten less than four lengths in the Toorak when 12th to Allez Wonder but Conners said the horse was never the same after tearing a hamstring two starts earlier.

“He hasn’t raced much since last spring because of what happened in last year’s Rupert Clarke when he nearly went through the fence,” Conners said.

“He still finished a close seventh but he tore his hamstring and we kept pushing on trying to get it right.”

This campaign started shakily for Chasm when he injured his back in a comeback run when unplaced at Caulfield in May.

Despite the setback Conners kept him in work with a view to the spring.

“He has been in work since before winter,” Conners said.

“We just kept him ticking along and trying to strengthen up his back.”

The patience has been rewarded with two encouraging thirds this preparation including when beaten 1-1/2 lengths by Kenny’s World who eclipsed Luskin Star’s 33-year-old track record in the Cameron Handicap at Newcastle last month.

Last Sunday Chasm turned in a super Toorak trial when he got within 1-1/2 lengths of sprint sensation Hay List in the Group Two Gilgai Stakes (1200m) at Flemington.

“I think I have him right now,” Conners aid.

“His sectionals the other day were incredible.”

Conners is trialling this week’s quick back-up and jump from 1200m to 1600m for Chasm in the hope that he can ambitiously use it to effect later in the spring.

“If he runs well on Saturday then he will run in the Group Two Salinger (1200m) on Derby Day and then back up in the (Group One) Emirates over 1600 metres,” Conners said.

Chasm is $11 with TAB Sportsbet for the Toorak which is dominated by $2.25 favourite More Joyous.

Meanwhile, Dale Sutton is hopeful that La Rocket can run better than his $61 price as he eyes more lucrative Group One races in the spring.

Sutton said the six-year-old was building his fitness levels following two runs this campaign after his autumn was prematurely ended because of hindquarter soreness.

“We were told to give him six months off and only gave him three but everything has been good for this spring,” Sutton said.

“His fitness is nearly there.”

The winner of the Group Two St George Stakes (1800m) in February, La Rocket finished ninth when second-up at his first Group One attempt in last month’s Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m).

“The Toorak will tell us if we go forward or take a backward step with him,” Sutton said.

“We are aiming him at 2000 metres this campaign and hopefully the Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington on Derby Day.

“He is still in the Cox Plate but that is a bit of a dream.”