Stayers Cup target for Equissential
Stephen Rodgers
18:25 AEST Sat Jan 5 2013

Neville Saunders believes Equissential has earned the right to back up in next Saturday's Magic Millions Stayers Cup at the Gold Coast.

Equissential narrowly won Saturday's St Margaret's Girls School Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm, seven days after a boilover win at Doomben.

Saunders concedes it's not an ideal preparation for Equissential to line up three weeks in a row in the Stayers Cup but believes the five-year-old deserves a start.

"I set him for the Stayers Cup two months ago but I was worried he'd only be a borderline chance of getting a start if I didn't run him today," he said.

"I thought if he could win this race it would lift his rating and he'd be guaranteed a run.

"Going three weeks in a row isn't ideal but it's a two hundred thousand dollar race so it's worth a throw at the stumps."

Saunders was confident the gelding would cope with a hefty weight rise but admitted the drop back in journey was his greatest concern.

"I took the view that if he was going up that much in weight then it was probably a lesser quality race than last week," he said.

"Dropping back to 1400 metres probably worried me a bit more and it was only his fitness and a bit of class that got him home today."

Trainer Robert Heathcote told stewards he was mystified by the failure of Volkhere ($2.60) who finished ninth.

"His work has been good but I'm at a loss to explain what happened," he said.

"Obviously I'll get my vet to go right over him and get a blood count taken."

Jockey Matthew Palmer said he was concerned when Volkhere wasn't travelling well at the 600 metres.

"He was under a fair bit of pressure but failed to respond to my riding," he said.

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