Scone-based trainer Paul Messara said his unbeaten More Than Ready colt Mahisara was not “an even money” chance for tomorrow’s BRC Sires Produce Stakes but still had a strong shot at maintaining their flawless race record.
Mahisara is one of 12 two-year-olds that will take their place in the $250,000 Group 2 BRC Sires Stakes (1400m) at Eagle Farm’s Queensland Oaks Day on Saturday.
The lightly-raced juvenile has had just two starts to date but has easily won both.
Making their debut at Kembla Grange the colt defeated a quality field by one and a half lengths on May 3, despite being tightened for room throughout the run and taking his time to move up to the leaders before hitting the front.
At his next run, Mahisara looked like a different horse, the improvement in their performance enormous.
Exploding from the gates at Canterbury on May 25, the galloper bolted to the front, relaxed well and was never going to get run down.
In the end Mahisara finished an extremely comfortable two and a half lengths clear of runner-up Queenian in the 1250m race, earning them a shot at Group glory in Brisbane.
“He surprised as a little bit (last start),” Messara said.
“He’s come on quite naturally and showed quite a lot of natural improvement from his first-up run.
“(At Canterbury) he never really looked like being run down.
“The penny certainly dropped and that happens with young horses.”
So impressed with Mahisara’s last start, connections decided earlier in the week to pay the first acceptance fee for them in Saturday week’s $500,000 Group 1 The TJ Smith (1600m) on Stradbroke Handicap Day.
Mahisara is now one of 19 two-year-olds heading towards The TJ Smith, but first they must show their form against the best in the Sires Produce on Saturday.
Dominant favourite and the horse to beat in both the BRC Sires Produce Stakes and the TJ Smith is the Peter Snowden-trained Benfica.
Prepared by the season’s premier trainer of two-year-olds, Lonhro colt Benfica comes off a brilliant three and a half length win in the listed Hampden Stakes (1200m) at Doomben on May 14 and will take some beating tomorrow after drawing well in barrier four.
Snowden will also be represented by another last-start winner, Free Wheeling, also drawn nicely in barrier five for the Sires Produce.
Suffering an early blow with the ‘visitor’s draw’, Mahisara is rated a $10 chance for the Eagle Farm feature after drawing barrier 12.
Still, Messara is hopeful they will show more development following their nice show at Canterbury and can give the favourites a run for their money.
“He’s not an even money shot…but certainly not a bad place to be in a Group 2,” Messara said.
Messara said Mahisara had made the trip to Queensland earlier in the week without trouble and looked in good form.
“He arrived on Wednesday morning and he settled in really well,” he said.
Due to be ridden by Jim Byrne for the first time in the BRC Sires Produce, Mahisara is expected to cross and attempt to take the early lead in the race from their wide draw according to Messara.
“He’ll definitely go forward, there’s no doubt about that,” Messara said.
“I think he’ll cross and he’ll certainly be in the first few (after settling).”
Messara also believes the colt will have no issue in stepping up from 1250m to 1400m.
“I don’t think it’ll be a problem,” he said of the BRC Sires Produce Stakes distance.
“I don’t think another 150 metres (from his last run) will hurt his performance.
“I think he’ll improve again.”
With the possibility of rain falling in Brisbane before Saturday’s race, Messara was not worried about a softer Eagle Farm track for his horse either and was in fact hoping to see a little wet weather.
“I think he can handle the rain-affected ground,” he said.
“I was hoping for a little bit of wet ground (that) would have been advantageous for him.”
Messara also confirmed on Friday morning that locally-based Queensland jockey Glen Colless had been booked to ride his veteran Flying Spur mare Alverta in Saturday week’s $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m).
Group 1 winner Alverta most recently ran a credible fifth to Kanzan in the Group 3 Glenlogan Park Stakes (1350m) on May 21 and is on-track for the Stradbroke, guaranteed a start sitting sixth on the order of entry.
Not having won since her success in the 2010 Coolmore Classic last March after which Messara took her overseas where her best run was a close third to Starspangledbanner in the Group 1 July Cup (1207m) in Europe, Alverta is currently rated a $51 roughie in the Stradbroke markets.
Nearing the end of her career, Alverta is also expected to line-up in the $500,000 Group 1 Winter Stakes (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 25 before beginning a career as a broodmare.
“She’s been a family favourite but she’s still got two more races….the Stradbroke and Winter Stakes,” Messara said.
“It was a magic experience taking her to England last year.
“It’s more than racing over there and is quite extraordinary.
“It was a great opportunity to get to have a runner in England so early in my career.
“I rate her placing in the July Cup behind Starspangledbanner as the best race of her career.”
Of his promising Kempinsky colt Chateau Fort, Messara confirmed that they were being spelled after running a disappointing 10th to Turnitup in the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) at Doomben last weekend.
Originally one of the top fancies to win the upcoming $500,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m), three-year-old Chateau Fort enjoyed three first-up wins during March and April before their third to Fillydelphia in the Group 3 Rough Habit Plate (2020m) but looked to have come to the end of their prep in the Grand Prix.
“He’s just had enough,” Messara said.
“We were hoping to get to the Derby, but have decided to give him a break.”
Shootoff remains the early Derby favourite followed by this Saturday’s leading Queensland Oaks hope Scarlett Lady.