Golden Gorge set for his first city test

Mathew Toogood
Trainer Robert Hickmott is keen to see what Golden Gorge can do in city grade at Caulfield

Initially destined for Hong Kong, three-year-old sprinter Golden Gorge is instead set to forge a promising career in Australia and will be out to back up an impressive maiden win when he makes his city debut at Caulfield.

The Robert Hickmott-trained Golden Gorge convincingly won an 1100m maiden at Bendigo on debut on December 15.

He steps up to city grade for the first time in Saturday's Cathie Ireland Handicap (1100m) against his own age.

Hickmott said Golden Gorge, who is owned by Hong Kong-based David Price, had been destined for a Hong Kong career but failed the stringent veterinary testing after winning a barrier trial at Cranbourne.

The trainer said the gelding had some spurring in the knees and hocks which stopped him going to Hong Kong, but he was happy he was still in his stable and believes he has a bright future.

"Hopefully he'll stay here and go through his grades and we could see a nice sprinter in the making here, that's for sure," Hickmott said.

After he settled back from a wide draw on debut under star jockey Damian Lane, Golden Gorge reeled in his rivals in the straight to win by a comfortable 2-1/4-lengths as the $1.80 favourite.

"He's always shown that he's had plenty of natural ability," Hickmott said.

"I was highly confident going into his Bendigo run.

"The plans were actually to sit outside the leader that day but he had a man up in the gates which didn't aid him in jumping well and he got well out of his ground which was something that we didn't expect.

"He had shown good gate speed in all his trials and jump-outs.

"Damian never panicked and let him find his feet back there, and win, lose or draw that day I thought it was a terrific ride to try to educate the horse.

"He was very impressive late."

With Lane riding at the Gold Coast, Michael Dee takes over on Golden Gorge who is the early favourite for Saturday's race.

Hickmott hopes he will settle closer and believes he can take the step up.

"It's a nice field," he said.

"He couldn't do what he did at Bendigo and probably get away with it. He couldn't stand them six or seven lengths and try to pick up that sort of horse.

"But if he can position a little bit closer and be within earshot of them, I'm sure he'll be there at the top end."