El-Issa ready for biggest race yet

SYDNEY Apr 21 2017

Bobby El-Issa says he's where he belongs ahead of the cancer survivor's biggest ride yet, the Sydney Cup.

He will be aboard Lee Curtis-trained Lasqueti Spirit in the re-run of the Cup at Randwick on Saturday following the declaration of a no-race on April 8 when Almoonqith fatally broke down and Who Shot Thebarman lost his rider.

El-Issa, who returned to to sport last April following a battle with leukaemia, says it will be his biggest ride yet.

"I believe this is (the) level I deserve to be at. I always have," El-Issa told AAP.

Given Lasqueti Spirit's habit of taking a little while to get going, El-Issa said he would need to watch how she jumped out of the barrier but she would eventually get to the lead.

"She's drawn barrier 10 so I think it's a positive because I've got runners to my outside and hopefully I don't get cluttered up early," he said.

"So she can maybe take a bit longer to muster her speed."

The three-year-old filly won the VRC Oaks in November, takng the lead mid-race and drawing further ahead the further they went.

This campaign she has run second to Winx in the Chipping Norton Stakes on February 25 and third in the Australian Oaks.

"I think she's a strong filly - she's proven that. It's obviously yet to be (seen) whether she'll get to 3200 (metres) but there's a lot of horses at the question mark also," El-Issa said.

"The way she races and the weight she's got (51.5kg), I think we're definitely at an advantage."

El-Issa's first Sydney win since his return to riding was on Eastern Legend in Canterbury in January.

"I actually didn't think I'd be back riding when I was sick a year-and-a-half ago," he said.

"'I'm healthy now. I'm in the mindset where 'it's never going to come back'.

"I think negativity brings you down. I've got too much to live for."

Lasqueti Spirit's trainer Lee Curtis is also in a positive frame of mind but admits the distance is a query.

"The 3200 metres is the only question," he said.

"But fitness-wise she is fine. She is exactly the same as she was going into the Oaks and is the same weight.

"She's a tough filly and I think she will handle it.".



Georgie Moore - AAP

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