EXCITING freshman Leonidas will need to call upon his inner warrior at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night.
Boasting five wins from six starts – including a victory against older rivals last week – the Australian Pacing Gold purchase is scheduled to contest an Alabar New South Wales Breeders’ Challenge semi.
To connections’ dismay, Leonidas has drawn the outside of the front row.
Leonidas was a warrior King of the Greek city-state of Sparta, who was portrayed by Gerard Butler in the cult movie, 300.
As for his standardbred namesake, the Blake Fitzpatrick-trained the son of Mach Three is facing a Persian army-styled assembly of rivals in what appears to be the strongest qualifier.
“It certainly appears to be the harder of the two semis on paper,” Fitzpatrick said. “On top of that, he’s the widest drawn runner, which makes the battle ahead a tough one.
“That said, I have never been happier with him and am confident he will be fighting out the finish given the right run.”
Citing Muscle Factory as the biggest threat to his gelding, Fitzpatrick believes Hardhitter and Shoobee Doo will also make their presence felt.
Muscle Factory has drawn barrier two, with Hardhitter to come from six and Shoobee Doo to begin from gate seven.
“Muscle Factory is the one to beat from the draw,” Fitzpatrick said. “Hardhitter and Shoobee Doo are also nice types which will play a role in the finish.
“Overall there are five or six pretty smart horses in the race, and for now, the main objective is to qualify Leonidas in the Final…anything else is a bonus.”