Mouro did plenty of work early but was able to hang on bravely to record a tough win in the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield this afternoon.
Mouro was extremely well-backed in the lead-up to the race, starting the event as favourite, but those who backed the Grand Slam entire heavily would have been very concerned when he missed the start and was caught four wide in the early stages of the race.
Jockey Damien Oliver asked the four-year-old to do plenty of work to join St Gabriel at the front of the field and he was keen to get on with the job coming around the final turn.
The Sale Cup winner looked as though he was a sitting duck in the final stages of the race but battled to the line bravely to record his first win at Group level from a fast-finishing Rain Drum and the consistent Bel Thor.
Trainer Tony McEvoy admitted that he was very worried during the run but said he was happy with how Mouro found the line after his tough run in transit.
“I think I was happy in the last 100 metres only,” McEvoy said after the race.
“He just didn’t look like he pinged the start and had to do quite a bit of work up the hill.
“He just showed that he is a quality horse and probably justified us thinking about going to a Group 1 with him.”
Mouro was included in the acceptances for the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington last weekend but McEvoy scratched the classy entire in order to save him for the Eclipse Stakes.
The leading trainer said that he was glad that the decision had paid off but plans on giving Mouro an opportunity at the highest level of racing when he returns in the autumn after a stint in the spelling paddock.
“I’m glad that we waited and it has been a really good result but in the autumn I think that you will see him go up a level,” McEvoy.
“I’ve always thought of him as a 2000 metre horse and is a half-brother to Californian Memory who is the 2000 metre champion in Hong Kong.
“He has to race a little better than he did today though.”
Oliver’s ride on Mouro was not the best of his stellar career and the leading jockey was quick to pay toughness to the horse that did a great deal of work with 59kg on his back.
“It was a good win,” Oliver said.
“I was about to get in early but then Michael Rodd’s horse got going a bit inside us so I had to let him slide on.
“He got a little bit keen a long way from home and I had to let him slide on.
“You have always got to be ready for the unexpected and he was a little vulnerable with 59kg but he was just too good.”
Oliver was clear impressed with Mouro’s victory and like McEvoy believes that the four-year-old is good enough to compete at Group 1 level; indicating that the $3 million Doncaster Handicap during ‘The Championships’ in autumn could be a potential target.
“He feels like there is a big mile handicap in him; I thought that the Toorak might be a good race for him and I think that he will appreciate a bit of give out of the ground,” Oliver said.
“If he happened to get into a Doncaster with a soft track, he would be some chance.”
McEvoy was celebrating his second victory in the Eclipse Stakes after winning the 2001 edition of the race with Fields Of Omagh, who went on to win the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) on two occasions.
There is still plenty of great racing taking place at Caulfield this afternoon and you can find the best odds at Ladbrokes.com.au!
2013 Eclipse Stakes Finishing Order
|1||1||MOURO (USA)||Tony McEvoy||Damien Oliver||–||10||59kg||$3.60F|
|2||2||RAIN DRUM||Gai Waterhouse||Nash Rawiller||0.5L||3||57kg||$3.70|
|3||4||BEL THOR||Wez Hunter||Dwayne Dunn||3L||4||54kg||$5.50|
|4||9||SAVITAR (NZ)||Lee & Shannon Hope||Craig Williams||4.75L||2||54kg||$21|
|5||8||ADJUSTER||Byron Cozamanis||Billy Egan||4.95L||1||54kg||$17|
|6||6||FELIDEA||Leon Corstens||Michael Rodd||6.95L||9||54kg (cd 54.5kg)||$12|
|7||10||PIN YOUR HOPES (NZ)||Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra||Damian Lane||9.45L||6||54kg (cd 54.5kg)||$16|
|8||5||VEEWAP||Tony Vasil||Kerrin McEvoy||9.65L||8||54kg||$31|
|9||7||ST GABRIEL||David & Ryan Balfour||Craig Newitt||10.4L||5||54kg||$21|
|10||3||HARTANI (IRE)||Robert Hickmott||Ben Melham||10.6L||7||54.5kg||$12|