Empire building to a win

Horses that win their maiden at the tiny Mallee town of Donald don't often go on to win at racing's Headquarters at Flemington. But according to Flemington trainer Simon Zahra, Fallen Empire does not fit the mould of an ordinary horse.

The veteran of just four starts is the first emergency in the fourth race at Flemington, the Benchmark 64 over 1400 metres, and while the son of Smart Missile hardly jumps out of the form page, Zahra warned punters to be wary of the four-year-old.

"He's a really nice horse but just had a few issues after his win at Donald (in March)," Zahra explained. "We gave him plenty of time to get over that.

"His first-up run (third at Sandown) was outstanding. He was probably a bit rusty and had a massive blow after the race. I think he's come on from that.

"The 1200 metres will suit, the soft track will suit. The only doubt with him is those higher-rated horses in a (ratings) 64 with their claims come in really well at the weights."

Zahra said it was worth punters watching a replay of his Donald win as it suggests the horse can go far in his racing career.

"If you saw his maiden win at Donald, it was outstanding," he said. "He got back about 20 lengths off them and hit the line unbelievably.

"His sectionals were fantastic but unfortunately he whacked his leg in the run and didn't pull up the greatest.

"He's a horse to watch for the future. I think the more racing he does the better he's going to be."

The training partners Zahra and Mat Ellerton have a handful of runners on their home track this Saturday and away from the emerging Fallen Empire, Zahra points to one of the mainstays of the stable as being a solid winning chance.

Zahra said Rock 'N' Gold, who lines up in the fifth race over 1410m, was on the verge of breaking through for the first time since January.

"Anyone who saw his run on Ararat Cup Day, it was tragedy. He just couldn't get out and had a lot of weight," he said.

"With the claim (3kg for Lachlan King) and back to 1400m, back to Flemington where he's performed extremely well, I think he's a good player.

"His form probably doesn't read as what it should but I've been keen to get him up to 1400m this time in and even beyond."

Racing at Flemington on Saturday, picture ThoroughbredNEWS