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Cooldini heading for Sydney Cup
Jeff Turnbull
14:02 AEST Tue Jan 7 2014

Melbourne stayer Cooldini opens a campaign aimed at the Sydney Cup with a first-up run in the Chester Manifold Stakes at Flemington on Saturday.

Cooldini has not raced beyond 2600 metres, but trainer Robert Smerdon believes the four-year-old gelding is now mature enough to handle the full Cup distance of 3200m.

"He gives me every indication that he may well run the distance," Smerdon said.

"He hasn't raced for six months so he has to work his way up there with a few lead-in runs."

The Sydney Cup is the only other Australian Group One race left over the Melbourne Cup distance and has been given a prize money boost to $1 million this year.

Cooldini was in handy form before his lengthy spell, winning consecutive 2500m races in open company at Flemington before finishing third to Fine de Lago at odds-on in his final outing.

Smerdon also fancies the gelding as a jumper and schooled him over the jumps last year.

"He's qualified as a jumper but his flat form was good enough to pursue a decent staying race," Smerdon said.

"Some horses mix it up - they can do both - and that's an option for him."

Smerdon gave Cooldini a hit-out in a 1000m barrier trial at Pakenham last month but put no pressure on him.

Smerdon thinks the gelding will give a decent account of himself over the 1400 metres at Flemington.

"He's capable of running a cheeky race fresh but he'll be better suited as the races get longer," Smerdon said.

Smerdon has two other starters at Flemington, and likes the chances of Aurora Lights in the Jezabeel Handicap (2000m).

"She's getting up to a distance where she can be effective," he said.

The Caulfield-based trainer will be in Queensland this weekend with Salute To Jude, a top chance in the Gold Coast $1 million Magic Millions 3YO Guineas (1400m).