Having finished no worse than second in six of his last seven competitive starts, talented five-year-old Mouro highlights a strong final field for the Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens this weekend.
Amassing seven wins and five places from his fourteen race starts to date, Mouro returned to the track in impressive form last year, finishing second in the Anzac Day Maiden (1600m) before winning the Listed Rowley Mile (1600m) ahead of a talented field that included Speediness.
Closing an equally impressive spring preparation with a comfortable win in the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes (1800m), the Grand Slam entire took advantage of the inside gate in the Group 3 TAB Rewards Stakes (1400m) first-up on March 1st, jogging home ahead of Mourinho and Fat Al.
Having outlined the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) as the major target for Mouro this preparation, trainer Tony McEvoy is confident of continuing the perfect start to 2014 after again claiming the inside barrier for this weekend’s Ajax Stakes.
Monton has contested a long and busy preparation since re-appearing on track in the Group 3 Show County (1200m) on August 24th, and is aiming to return to the form that delivered three wins and one place in his last five starts after finishing fifth in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) most recently.
With the Doncaster Mile also looming as a hopeful target for the Catbird gelding this season, trainer Ron Quinton is confident the well-trialled seven-year-old can lodge a serious claim on the Ajax Stakes after drawing the ideal barrier 4.
Securing seven wins and nine places from 32 race starts, Riva De Lago was widely expected to return to the track in peak form this preparation, but is yet to hit top gear following two forgettable results in the Southern Cross Stakes (1200m) and Liverpool City Cup (1300m) so far.
Things don’t seem to be getting any easier for the Encosta De Lago gelding this weekend, drawing the awkward barrier 10 for the Ajax Stakes.
Yet to set a path in stone for Riva De Lago this campaign, trainer Chris Waller is expecting a sharp turn in form this weekend, and has hinted the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) might be the go in late April.
Waller is set to dominate the running of the 2014 Ajax Stakes, having also accepted positions in the final field for Diametric (barrier 11), Danchai (barrier 7) and Weary (barrier 3).
Irish import Diametric is yet to line up for an event in Australia, however managed three wins and three places in only eight racing starts in France.
British import Danchai will also make his Australian racing debut in the 2014 Ajax Stakes, having transferred to the care of Waller at the end of a success 2013 preparation which delivered two wins and three competitive places over 10 starts.
Having also started his career abroad, Weary will line up for his second appearance this campaign in Australia, finishing third behind fellow Ajax Stakes acceptor Ecuador (barrier 8) in the TAB Rewards Maiden (1400m) first-up on February 15th.
A total of 11 horses have accepted positions in the final field for the 2014 Group 2 Ajax Stakes.
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2014 Ajax Stakes Final Field and Barrier Draw
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp Rating|
|1||212x2011x1||MOURO (USA)||Tony McEvoy||Craig Williams||1||58kg||108|
|2||7×84811315||MONTON||Ron Quinton||Sam Clipperton (a)||4||57kg||106|
|3||2x81039x70||RIVA DE LAGO||Chris Waller||Jim Cassidy||10||55.5kg||103|
|4||x4165640x5||MALAVIO||Steve Englebrecht||Brenton Avdulla||2||54.5kg||101|
|5||02111x11x1||MESSENE||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||James McDonald||9||54.5kg||101|
|6||21x1x1235x||DIAMETRIC (IRE)||Chris Waller||Jason Collett||11||53kg||97|
|7||12852145×8||LESS IS MORE (FR)||David Vandyke||Jay Ford||5||53kg||97|
|8||1x21126x11||ECUADOR (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||8||53kg||96|
|9||5x2261070x||DANCHAI (GB)||Chris Waller||Craig Newitt||7||53kg||93|
|10||24x10137x6||RHYTHM TO SPARE (NZ)||Michael Moroney||Glen Boss||6||53kg||93|
|11||26x6x244x3||WEARY (FR)||Chris Waller||Glyn Schofield||3||53kg||89|