The Perth Cup’s sole east coast competitor has attracted plenty of attention this week, not because of his win at Moonee Valley last week, but who exactly will be riding him.
Earlier this week, Fred Kersley was named to ride the gelding, but was then expected to ride for David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig at Caulfield on Saturday.
As a result, trainer Pat Carey booked Daniel Staeck for the ride and announced he would ride 0.5kg over.
However, Kersley was then released from his rides at Caulfield and Carey hoped to put him back on Khartoum, but stewards said Staeck had to ultimately keep the ride.
Despite the uncertainty of who would ride, Khartoum arrived in Perth overnight off the back of an impressive win over 2500m last Saturday.
Khartoum was a late nomination for this week’s Group 2 feature, after he finished fourth in the Pakenham Cup early last month.
Owner and breeder Trevor Delroy said he felt he had the right horse to be able to win the $500,000 event.
“He’s a pretty strong bred horse out of a Galileo mare,” he told TABradio.
“He travelled over pretty well last night, he got there this morning.
“It doesn’t look an overly strong Perth Cup compared to some of the ones we have seen over the years.
“It didn’t look like he would get a start based on his rating, so we started him at Moonee Valley, which he won.
“That got his rating up and he pulled up pretty well, so we thought we’d come over.”
Khartoum has won just three of his 22 starts, two of which have come this campaign and has drawn well in barrier six this weekend.
The five-year-old sits on the fifth line of betting at $16 with TABtouch, with Action now a dominant $2.60 favourite.
Despite only being a winner of a maiden and two Benchmark 78 races in Victoria, Delroy said Khartoum was tough enough to handle a tricky mile-and-a-half course.
“I think Ascot is a pretty testing track,” he said.
“You’ve got to come up the hill past the post out of the straight, then climb the hill in the last 100m of the race.
“You’d like to see him up in the first four or five.”
Despite missing out on the Perth Cup ride aboard Khartoum, Kersley will still make the trip across to Perth to ride In Love With Paris in the Listed Summer Scorcher (1000m) for his grandfather Fred.
The TABtouch-Perth Cup gets underway at 4.35 on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, trainer Justin Warwick has been fined $4,400, after Material Man was found to have had Flunixin in a blood sample taken at the Belmont trials in November.