Angaston-based horseman Tony McEvoy is hoping for a soft Caulfield track for Zipping Classic Day on Saturday where he will saddle-up last start Sale Cup winner Mouro in the 2013 Eclipse Stakes.
Grand Slam stallion Mouro has had just a dozen starts to date, the four-year-old posting their fifth career success last start.
Carrying 58kg they relished a step back in class having run 11th to Solzhenitsyn in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m), run on an unsuitably firm track, the run before when taking out Sale’s mile classic on October 27.
They go up to Group level again this weekend for a shot at the $150,000 Group 3 Snowhite Maintenance Eclipse Stakes (1800m) where they are one of the top fancies in the 10-horse field.
Eclipse Stakes betting is firmly led by Gai Waterhouse’s in-form Rain Drum ($2.30) while Mouro, drawn wide in gate 10, occupies the second line at $5.
They will be ridden by Damien Oliver, who saluted in this year’s Melbourne Cup aboard Waterhouse’s favourite Fiorente, for the first time since the duo ran a first-up second over 1400m at Caulfield back in September.
Mouro has a great record over the mile but the European import, who had their opening two starts in France, is yet to be tested over further than that until now.
While they don’t have the distance record, a good draw or weight McEvoy remains confident things can go their way on Saturday.
The trainer admits it’s very frustrating not having any control over the barriers however with Mouro having drawn similarly awkward gates for their past two runs – 10 of 17 in the Toorak and 11 of 12 in the Sale Cup.
“Luckily we have a horse which is very flexible and can be ridden forward or back,” McEvoy told AAP this week.
“It will all come back to tempo and how we see the race.”
Boosting his confidence is that the Caulfield track, currently a Heavy (8), is set to be soft for Saturday’s meeting at this stage which will advantage Mouro.
“There was better ground at Sale (than it was for the Toorak) and we’re hoping the rain in Melbourne will help him, making the ground nice and easy,” McEvoy said.
McEvoy is also looking back to Mouro’s win over Speediness (3rd) in the Listed Rowley Mile (1600m) at Hawkesbury in May as a nice form line.
Speediness turned the tables on them the next run in a close one-two in the Scone Cup during the winter and was last seen crossing just a quarter length away third to Boban in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington last start.
McEvoy opted to scratch Mouro from the Emirates knowing how tough the Group 1 field was, but believes his horse will be hard to beat on Saturday.
“Mouro is right around that mark,” he said.
Following this prep McEvoy plans to step Mouro up to 2000m during the autumn for some Group 1 assignments next year such as the weight-for-age Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick on April 26.
“He will enjoy the 1800 (metres on Saturday) but I believe he’ll be better at 2000,” McEvoy said.
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