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Trainer hoping long straight makes Chum the Balaklava Master

Murray Bridge horseman Rob Wilkinson is hoping the long home straight can work to the advantage of talented stayer Master Chum in Wednesday’s $100,000 Listed TQCSI Balaklava Cup (1600m).

Master Chum produced some impressive closing sections to finish on the heels of the placegetters in the Listed Leon Macdonald Stakes (1400m) last time out, a run that has seen the horse well found by punters in early cup markets.

Master Chum opened a $13 chance but was quickly backed into a $7.50 second favourite with tab.com.au and Wilkinson was quick to add it was the professionals rather than his money that resulted in the early support.

“I don’t bet, we just love racing him and are glad to have him as a part of the family,” Wilkinson said.

“To win a race like this would be sensational, it would be a big achievement for him.

“We looked at Balaklava due to the bigger track and he might go on to the Murray Bridge Gold Cup and potentially the Tokyo City Cup (now named the John Letts Cup).”

One big problem Wilkinson faces with the progressive stayer is the lack of suitable racing options locally and the fact he wouldn’t send the horse interstate

“This was part of his goal, the rest was going to Melbourne for some races in the spring carnival,” Wilkinson said.

“But with COVID, that’s unlikely. He was born with a twisted tendon, it doesn’t affect him at all, but to have to trust and leave him with someone else just won’t happen.

“He was raised as a family pet basically and I don’t see the point paying someone else twice as much as I would charge to campaign him interstate.

“Hopefully Thoroughbred Racing SA can help us out with some races here and we get through to the Adelaide Cup again next year.

“Sadly SA just doesn’t have the races for highly-rated stayers.”

Wilkinson said he wasn’t surprised with how well the horse has come back after winning the Listed Birthday Cup over 2043m before being narrowly beaten by Eperdument in the Group 3 Lord Reims Stakes (2500m) at Morphettville earlier in the year.

Wilkinson said Master Chum’s second-up effort on August 29 was made even better by the fact he was held-up at a crucial stage – behind his stablemate, of all horses – in the Leon Macdonald Stakes.

“He’s come back sensational,” Wilkinson said.

“His second-up run especially, the sectional times he ran were terrific… considering his stablemate (Array Of Sunshine) kept him in a pocket.”

Array Of Sunshine will need luck just to make the trip to Balaklava, currently needing one more scratching to gain a start.

“She’s drawn really well, she ran a 10.83 second sectional last time and finished a length and half behind Dalasan and he’s gone on to run a super race in the Group 1 last weekend,” Wilkinson said.

“It’s just about getting the penny to drop with her.”

If Array Of Sunshine misses out on a Balaklava Cup start she’ll be in action at Morphettville this weekend.

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