Top hoop Brad Rawiller is excited to reunite with Saturday’s 2014 PB Lawrence Stakes favourite Puissance de Lune nearly two years on from losing the ride on the one time Melbourne Cup fancy.
Connections of the Darren Weir-trained Shamardal grey this weekend reengage the services of Rawiller who was replaced by fellow jockey Glen Boss on the stallion back in October of 2012.
After guiding the promising stayer to a five length Mornington win the start before, his third success on the import, Rawiller was charged with careless riding after Puissance de Lune went down to Hornet’s Nest as the beaten odds-on favourite at Warrnambool.
Boss took over and stayed on as the now six-year-old progressed through the ranks and secured their spot at the top of early Melbourne Cup betting markets.
While the 2012 Melbourne Cup came too soon, eight and five length wins respectively in the Bendigo Cup and Queen Elizabeth Stakes that year saw the bookies and punters take notice for the following spring.
After Puissance de Lune came back for a one hit autumn campaign to dead heat with Budriguez in the Group 2 Blamey Stakes (1600m) in March last year, that position was cemented.
He may not have been aboard the galloper but after having so much to do with him in his earlier career Rawiller was cheering for Puissance that day and continued to do so when the horse returned last spring.
“He’s a horse that I had a lot to do with in the first part of his career and I felt that I played a part in his development,” Rawiller told Racing Victoria on Thursday.
“So while I wasn’t riding him, you still get great enjoyment out of seeing a horse that you’ve been a part of running well, first of all for an owner that you’ve had a great association with but also for the Darren Weir team, which has been such a big influence on my career.
“It’s just great when the stable’s doing well and when they’ve got a good horse you want to see them run well.
“I was disappointed but I was excited to see him do well. But I’ve never looked back and thought, ‘I should have been on him’. That’s the way the cards fell and I feel what goes around comes around.”
First-up he won the $200,000 Group 2 PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m) with Rawiller riding third placegetter Second Effort.
This Saturday the reigning PB Lawrence Stakes champion is back to defend his title, and this time Rawiller is back aboard.
Puissance de Lune never made it to last year’s Cup but did add some pretty pennies to the kitty with Group 1 seconds in the Makybe Diva and Turnbull Stakes.
An elite level win has eluded him however after injuring a tendon and pulling up lame after a 12th to Shamus Award in the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) last October.
This weekend is his first run back from a lengthy break and Ladbrokes.com.au have Puissance de Lune as the one to beat in the Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield paying $3.30.
“I think the biggest thing after an injury is confidence and mentally wanting to be a racehorse again and I certainly have no issues with him regarding that,” Rawiller said having ridden the horse in recent trackwork and exhibition gallops across some country tracks.
“In his gallops he’s wanted to race the horse that he’s been with.
“He’s a horse that you’ve got to switch on, he doesn’t just go and automatically do it, but at the same time when I’ve needed him he’s been straight underneath me, so that’s all promising.
“As far as his action goes, I can’t fault him at all and from the first time I galloped him to the trial to the last time I galloped him he’s definitely been better each time as far as the speed in his legs goes.”
The 2014 Cox Plate on October 25 could also be a long term goal, but connections including owner Gerry Ryan have firmly ruled out a shot at the Melbourne Cup again this spring.
Winning an early Group 1 though is the primary aim and something Rawiller really hopes the horse can do with him in the saddle.
After Saturday he is likely to target the $400,000 Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) back at the track on August 30 before another run in the $400,000 Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 13 that he finished a nose away second to Foreteller in last year.
The Chris Waller-trained Foreteller ($7) is among Puissance de Lune’s rivals on Saturday with other notable runners in the race including Peter Moody’s French import Lidari ($5), their Group 1 winning stablemate Brambles ($31) and consistent sprinter Zamorar ($8) with the inside alley.
Whether Puissance de Lune can salute for the punters and become just the second back-to-back winner of the race joining Tauto (1971-72) though could come down to whether he is too sharp this year not being campaigned for the two miles at the end of the prep.
“Before his first-up run last time, when he won this race, he would have been doing longer work based upon a stayer’s preparation and this preparation I don’t think he’d be going into it any fitter but hopefully he’s got a little bit more sharpness in his legs,” Rawiller said.
“The other side of that, though, is coming back from injury there is a fine line between getting ‘sharpness’ in your legs and going over the top.
“I couldn’t happier going into Saturday but I’m certainly not foolish enough to think that he’s not going to improve on whatever he does.”
If you think Puissance de Lune is worth backing make sure you place your bets online at Ladbrokes.com.au as they’re offering money back bonus bets up to $50 if your PB Lawrence Stakes selection runs second!