Victorian staying revelation Drill Sergeant ‘knows what to do, no questions required’ in the $143,750 Group 1 Garrard’s Gold Cup final (710m) – Race 6, 8.55pm – at Albion Park on Thursday night.
Drill Sergeant has already perfected the 'practice' of winning at the highest Group race level, having won the G1 Sale Cup (640m) on New Year's Eve.
And there'll also be a certain 'familiarity' with Brisbane as he chases a successful fly-in fly-out mission for the second successive week.
He was the equal fastest heat winner (41.87sec) with Victorian compatriot Pearly Tears, prepared by Tim Britton, last Thursday night.
Another Victorian, the James Shaw-trained Big Suzie, also qualified for the final after finishing a fast-closing third to Drill Sergeant.
But this week the bar is raised a lot higher with a $100,000 first prize on the line!
Heathcote trainer Shane Drummond is hoping his charge can 'pull rank' with a pre-emptive strike on his rivals and prove a 'sergeant major' with further G1 'stripes'."I don't mind him wearing the 'green' rug as he'll run straight to the first turn and all the pace is on the inside."
And he's buoyed by his thinking that Drill Sergeant "will be a lot better this week travel wise".
"Last week was his first interstate trip and he was a bit spent when we arrived home on Friday morning, so I gave him a couple of quiet days," Drummond explained.
"But we'll be following the same routine – fly in on Thursday morning and on to a dog-friendly motel at 1pm around 10 minutes from Albion Park."
Last week was only Drummond's second time on a plane – the first being 15 years ago which prompted him to quip: "I was a bit spent too."
Drummond says since stepping up Drill Sergeant (Jul '20 My Redeemer x Princess Pout) – a winner of 10 races (with 10 seconds and six thirds) from 39 starts – in distance he's really found his niche.
"He's always had a 'motor', but he's just chasing 100 per cent now. He's loving racing and he also thrives on a couple of long walks on bush tracks during the week which freshens him up mentally."
Drill Sergeant has drawn awkwardly in box six for the final. However, Drummond isn't perturbed.
"I don't mind him wearing the 'green' rug as he'll run straight to the first turn and all the pace is on the inside.
"I'm just hoping he jumps well and puts himself into the race. It'll be too hard to come from back in the field."
Drummond adds a second Group 1 victory would be "simply the best". "It's pie in the sky at the moment but we're in with a chance."
Drill Sergeant was $9 in early betting markets while Pearly Tears (Box 3) and Big Suzie (Box 4) were $4 and $5.50 respectively.
Following the Brisbane mission, Drummond intends setting Drill Sergeant for the G1 Fanta Bale Stayers (730m) at The Meadows during the Australian Cup Carnival.