Daring to dream, Moe-based trainer Peter Gelagotis plans to give his veteran galloper Mourinho a light Australian Cup campaign this autumn before bringing him back for a 2015 Cox Plate bid in the spring.
The Oratorio seven-year-old is getting better with age according to Gelagotis who hopes to prove that this year with the gelding to break his Group 1 duck either in the autumn or spring.
“It just seems that’s the way he’s going,” he told RSN’s Racing and Sports program on Thursday morning.
“He’s showing sharper qualities and more composure, that’s the key, more composure in himself.
“Hence he’s able to sprint a little bit better.”
A dual Group 3 winner, Group 2 runner-up and Group 1 performer Mourinho was last seen in the winner’s stall last October taking out the Listed Cranbourne Cup (2025m).
After that he was tested at elite level when seventh when running an honest race getting run down in the final furlong of the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 1.
He was narrowly balloted out of Australasia’s weight-for-age championship during last year’s Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival and with any luck Gelagotis will get the horse into this year’s $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) field at Moonee Valley in late October.
“We’re mindful that he hasn’t competed at Group 1 level, he’s had only the one run,” he said.
“Our goal, if possible and if the ability allows, to try and have a crack at the Cox Plate.
“You can only live the dream!”
Futures Cox Plate odds are already open at Ladbrokes.com.au and led by the defending champion Adelaide ($9) while Mourinho is well down the odds at $61.
His autumn meanwhile is focused on the $1 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) running at Flemington Racecourse on March 14.
He resumes this weekend at the Valley running in the $200,000 Group 2 Jeep Australia Stakes (1200m).
“He’s been ticking along really nice,” Gelagotis said.
“He had a jump-out on Monday and showed a lot of flair and a lot of pizazz in his half-mile trial.”
Drawn in barrier five of nine the always-honest warhorse has Vlad Duric aboard for the first time, Duric having ridden him for some work being left with a good impression during his winter – spring break last year.
Australia Stakes betting markets for the weekend are led by the now odds-on favourite Dissident, in from $2 to $1.95, with Mourinho a $34 outsider in betting.
He runs well fresh however and Gelagotis is confident the distance won’t be too short, the horse showing ability over sprints during this latter part of his career.
“We thought it would be more beneficial to get a little short race under his belt three weeks before the mile then he’s a chance to earn some prize money while gaining fitness,” he said.
“He can rattle off a rally good race fresh now.
“In previous campaigns he didn’t do that, he’d crash and burn a little bit.
“He seems to be a bit more furnished and a bit more seasoned.
“He’s putting it together over shorter distances which he probably couldn’t do in the past.”
Mourino’s top record at Moonee Valley of four wins, two seconds and a third from 10 starts was also a deciding factor in racing him in the Australia Stakes.
“That was a key factor in saying we were going,” Gelagotis said.
“He does love that track and he seems to get around there real good and finds his form really well there.”
After this weekend Gelagotis is eyeing a run in the $150,000 Group 3 Carlyon Cup (1600m) at Caulfield on February 14 followed by the $200,000 Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) back at the track on February 28.
“Just the traditional Australian Cup preparation,” he said.
“We’ll go to the mile race on the 14th of February then a fortnight later the Peter Young then a run int the Austraina Cup.
“That will be his campaign for the autumn and he’ll come back and follow a similar path to see if we can get into the Cox Plate.
“Hopefully we can place in a Group 1 and can qualify the Cox Plate next time in.
“If he can win the Dato that will get us in.
“He’s taken the next step and he needs to take another step.
“But he’s very progressive. He’s not showing his age in any way, he’s actually getting better so we’ll strike while the iron’s hot.”
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