Sokys Bigbullet has been a feature in the top two in his last eight starts, but trainer-driver Bruce Harpley believes he needs to go to another level to be competitive in the Cherry Festival Cup (2100m) at Young on Friday.
He meets a hot field in the $12,000 feature, which includes a strong Western Districts contingent as well as some raiders from Sydney.
Sokys Bigbullet was runner-up in cups at Albury, Leeton and West Wyalong last season before winning at the Coolamon Pacers Cup, but the Junee conditioner believes this field is a class above those.
“It is probably the hardest field he’s been in for a couple of years,” Harpley said.
“All those other cup races there was only one or two nicer horses but there is probably half a dozen nice horses in this one.”
The seven-year-old resumed from a spell with a win on his home track last Friday.
It is probably the hardest field he’s been in for a couple of years.Bruce Harpley
The $2.50 favourite scored a 1.7-metre victory at Junee, but Harpley wasn’t thrilled by the effort.
“It was only ok,” Harpley said.
“He got the perfect run but he wasn’t really switched on to race.
“He was alright in the run but wanted to hang a bit and stuff around a bit.
“I don’t think mentality he was ready for race, but it won’t take him long to get mentality right again.”
Harpley hopes the first-up effort has switched on the son of Modern Art.
“I’ve only hoppled him the once since then and he was a lot sharper when I hoppled him,” he said.
“I think he will get the picture pretty quick.
“Being on his home track I think he thought it was just a normal work day.”
Harpley believes the Amanda Turnbull-trained pair Parramatta and Chumlee will be the hardest to beat.
The pair fought out the finish to Blayney’s feature on Sunday, with Chumlee coming out on top to back up his win in the Griffith Pacers Cup win.
“Parramatta, they have a bit of wraps on it and it seemed pretty impressive when it won at Penrith, and other horse has improved, Chumlee,” Harpley said.
“He beat it last week.
“I thought it was an ok horse but I think Chumlee has got better.”
He is also wary of Darren Hancock’s El Major.
The four-year-old is coming off a fourth in a $50,000 feature at Melton and will make the trip from his Pheasants Nest base for the race.