Gai Waterhouse’s glamour mare More Joyous, who was one of 16 entries for Tulloch Lodge in the Epsom Handicap nominations this week, is on track for a shot at the prestigious Cox Plate 2012 after impressing in a Randwick trial on Tuesday.
Kicking off the Royal Randwick hitouts for the morning, More Joyous flew down the 1200m on the course proper to beat home stablemate Tohunga by and easy two lengths.
It was a Waterhouse dominated heat with Amaretti, Herculian Prince, Reuben Percival and Four Nations finishing fourth to sixth respectively for the Hall of Fame trainer also.
Owner John Singleton was suitably impressed with the performance by the More Than Ready six-year-old, last seen running away with her eighth Group 1 success and third on the trot when winning the Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Sydney Cup Day, More Joyous winning in a time of 1:13.
“All indications are she’s come back how she left off after her last campaign,” Singleton’s racing manger Duncan Grimley said.
“She trialled very well again this morning so we’re on track.
“Nash [Rawiller] just let her coast home under her own steam.”
Other trial winners for Waterhouse on Tuesday included Under The Sun, Tribal Rock, Urban Groove and Our Desert Warrior while some of her better known spring hopefuls performed well in the speedy second trial with Wild And Proud and Western Symbol finishing two-three behind the Les Bridge-trained winner Hot Millie over 1200m in 1:12.40.
The effort of More Joyous to come from sixth to win the opening heat showed the $4.25 million earner was fighting fit for another spring carnival where her main assignment will be the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday October 27 and also impressed jockey Nash Rawiller.
“I think she is going as good as she ever has,” he said.
More Joyous has contested Australasia’s weight-for-age championship once before when finishing fifth to dual winner So You Think in the 2010 Cox Plate.
She missed the event, and the entire spring, last year however after encountering a Heavy (10) track at Randwick in mid-April and running a below par 11th in the Doncaster Mile after which she pulled up lame.
Things are looking much brighter this time around however, More Joyous having won the Doncaster Mile in her first ‘major’ victory during the autumn.
After her blistering trial win, her second at Randwick this month, connections have penciled in a low-key return for her in the $100,000 Listed Sheraco Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on Golden Rose Day, Saturday September 15.
She will then race again second-up in Sydney in the $250,000 Group 3 Golden Pendant (1400m) back at the track on September 29 before heading to Melbourne for the Cox Plate.
“She will resume in the Sheraco Stakes,” Grimley said.
“Then she runs two weeks later in the Golden Pendant which is a set weights and penalties race for mares. She’s going to carry about 58kg which is not too bad.
“She’ll then run over a mile (in Melbourne) and into the Cox Plate.”
That mile run will be the $400,000 Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on October 15, a race More Joyous won back in 2010 before her Cox Plate fifth, which Grimley admits isn’t the ideal Cox Plate lead-up.
“She won the Toorak with 58kg last time and I’d say she will have about 59kg this time,” he said.
“This gives us two weeks between runs into the Cox Plate.
“Unfortunately the way Melbourne has structured some of its races there’s no way to get her to a 2000-metre race of the Cox Plate first-up [at the distance] without running her in a handicap.
“Not good for the good horses but that’s just the way it is.”
The champion mare is currently leading the Cox Plate odds at bookmaker.com.au with More Joyous paying $7 to win, just above her undefeated young stablemate Pierro who is a $7.50 chance.
Golden Slipper winner Pierro resumes for the season on Saturday when they take on Black Caviar’s half-brother All Too Hard in the $125,000 Group 3 The Run To The Rose (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens.
Grimley also said More Joyous was a “million to one chance” of running in the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) but that she would be nominated for the famous Flemington feature when 2012 Melbourne Cup nominations closed early next month.
“She will be nominated for the Melbourne Cup but really it is probably a million-to-one that she runs,” Grimley said.
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