Fighting Fund fit for Festival

A five-week break between races may not be ideal for all horses but trainer Guy Walter believes it is pivotal to the prospects of Festival Stakes aspirant Fighting Fund.

The consistent seven-year-old has not started since his half-length second to Hot Danish in the Group Two Salinger Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on November 1.

The Listed Festival (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday is a lead-up to the Group Two Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick two weeks later.

Walter is still not sure whether Fighting Fund’s future lies in sprint races but says his current preparation has been designed around the Festival and Villiers.

“We are keen to try the Festival Stakes-Villiers double on a light preparation with him,” Walter said.

“He may be better as a sprinter, we don’t really know, but one thing we know is he is better as a fresh horse.

“He has won over 1600 metres in the past but that was a long time ago.

“But he is a very underrated horse and I think he is capable of doing it but I wish he had drawn better in the Festival.”

Fighting Fund will start from 12 of 16 and carry topweight of 58kg with Hugh Bowman, who rode him in the Salinger, aboard.

Kathy O’Hara won the 2006 Rowley Mile and Scone Cup on Fighting Fund and and is the gelding’s regular partner.

“We have stuck with Hugh because with the 58 kilos it means he won’t have to carry too much dead weight,” Walter said.

Fighting Fund was the $8 third favourite with TAB Sportsbet on Friday.

After opening at $7 on Thursday, the Gary Nickson-trained Theophorus firmed to $3.80 displacing Causeyacan at the head of the market with the latter at $5.50.

Fighting Fund’s record stands at eight wins and four placings from his 25 starts and although six of his victories have been on firm surfaces, Walter would prefer the ground to be a little more forgiving.

“I think he goes better with a bit of give in the ground, especially now he is getting older,” he said.

“I just hope it is not too firm.”

Utzon (2006) and Ike’s Dream two years earlier are the only horses to complete the Festival-Villiers double with the first leg run over 1400 metres until its comeback in January this year after the equine influenza outbreak.

By Caryl Williamson