Two more sprinters will tackle the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley Racecourse on Saturday after nominations were extended on Monday.
Just ten horses were nominated for the race on Monday but on Tuesday morning Peter Gelagotis’ Mourinho and Simon Zahra’s Hard Stride found themselves added to the race.
Mourinho was added to the race following an impressive jumpout at Cranbourne on Monday, according to racing manager Manny Gelagotis.
“He looks amazing, Damien Oliver trialled him yesterday and he was thrilled with him,” Gelagotis told Racing Victoria.
“He said he was a lot more advanced and forward than when he trialled him before he won first up last preparation.
“He is absolutely in a different stratosphere that horse, I can’t explain it, he’s just been a revelation. Twelve months ago he was a nice Listed level horse and he’s just gone to another level.”
The seven-year-old gelding enjoyed a career best season in Melbourne during the spring after winning the Listed Cranbourne Cup (2025m) along with minor placings in the Group 2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) and Group 3 JRA Cup (2025m).
Mourinho ended the spring with his first Group One race in the Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 1. He ran a very honest race, being run down in the last furlong to finish five lengths behind winner Happy Trails in seventh place.
Gelagotis has a light autumn campaign in mind for Mourinho as the trainer is keen to focus on the spring after it worked in his favour last year.
The main autumn aim for Mourinho is the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14. His path to the $1 million race is set to include the Group 3 Carlyon Cup (1600m) at Caulfield on February 14 and the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) a fortnight later.
“Based on the way he’s trialled and the way he’s going, we thought he’s better off having this run and then three weeks into the Carlyon Cup rather than giving him another trial and going fresh into that race,” he said.
“If his form warrants it we’ll head towards the Australian Cup (2000m).
“We’re of the view that we’ll give him a light autumn and then focus at the usual races at Moonee Valley in the Spring that we normally target with him.”
The final field for the 2015 Australia Stakes is set to be released on Wednesday, led by Peter Moody’s duo Moment Of Change and Dissident.
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