After missing out on a run in Australasia’s weight-for-age championship last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, the Peter Gelagotis-trained evergreen veteran Mourinho looks set for a Cox Plate run this season after a maiden Group 1 win in the Underwood Stakes 2015.
The eight-year-old son of Oratorio went back-to-back for the age group following the success of the Chris Waller-trained Foreteller (2014) 12 months ago with an impressive late victory in the $400,000 Group 1 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield Racecourse.
The always-honest gelding has had a number of close calls in Group 1 company for his Moe-based trainer Gelagotis over the seasons including a third in the CF Orr Stakes over the 1400m at Caulfield back in mid-February this year.
First-up for the spring the old warhorse beat home The Cleaner in the final stride in the Group 2 PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m) before Mick Burles’s Tasmanian champ turned the tables winning the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 5, a mile race Mourinho could only manage to run four lengths away sixth in.
Stepping up in distance back at Caulfield where he has now won three of his nine starts, Mourinho finally broke his Group 1 duck at his 38th career start winning the Underwood Stakes at weight-for-age as an $18 outsider in betting through Ladbrokes.com.au.
It was a three-way blanket finish between three eight-year-old WFA champions with Mourinho beating home Robert Hickmott’s last start Makybe Diva Stakes winner and race favourite Fawkner ($3.50) by a nostril flare while The Cleaner ($7.50) fought back and was very brave to hold for third.
The two placegetters by the finish, The Cleaner and Fawkner were up on the speed early with the Dato’ winner taking up front running from Mourinho while the Peter Moody-trained Hi World also raced up to sit third on the pace on the outside.
As they came towards the 500m it was still The Cleaner leading while Hi World came off the rails to challenge the front runner, while Mourinho and jockey Vlad Duric travelled three wide around the bed.
In the straight Fawkner took a while to run on but arrived late on the scene to give a big challenge before Mourinho struck on the outside to steal the show, The Cleaner also failing to lay down.
ATC Derby winning New Zealander Mongolian Khan ($21) finished off the first four in a good effort after being slow to begin over a distance still short of his best with improvement to come as the dual Group 1 champ over 2400m gets out further.
Duric was thrilled with the gutsy win from Mourinho who he hopes to stay on for the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 24.
“He got into a bad spot the other day and just drew a bit better today,” he said.
“We had the peach run and come into the race when we pleased.
“God bless him, he’s a warrior and I’m really proud of him.”
Gelagotis, back on board after serving a three month suspension, was also thrilled to see the gallant galloper finally salute in Group 1 company on way to the Cox Plate.
“We really put our horse out there and we backed ourselves and we backed our horse,” he said.
“He won’t be missing out (on the Cox Plate) this year!”
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2015 Underwood Stakes Results & Finishing Order
Caulfield Race 7 – 26/09/2015
|1||5||MOURINHO||Peter Gelagotis||Vlad Duric||–||4||59kg||$18|
|2||1||FAWKNER||Robert Hickmott||Damien Oliver||0.1L||2||59kg||$3.40F|
|3||4||THE CLEANER||Mick Burles||Noel Callow||0.2L||1||59kg||$7.50|
|4||9||MONGOLIAN KHAN||Murray Baker||Opie Bosson||1.7L||3||58kg||$15|
|5||10||VOLKSTOK’N’BARRELL (NZ)||Donna Logan||Craig Williams||2.45L||7||58kg||$12|
|6||6||CONTRIBUTER (IRE)||John O’Shea||James McDonald||2.55L||8||59kg||$4|
|7||12||HI WORLD||Peter G Moody||Kerrin McEvoy||2.65L||6||58kg||$21|
|8||2||DANDINO (GB)||Darren Weir||Ben Melham||2.85L||11||59kg||$15|
|9||8||DIBAYANI (IRE)||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Damian Lane||3.25L||9||59kg||$12|
|10||3||SERTORIUS||Jamie Edwards||Ryan Maloney||4L||10||59kg||$51|
|11||11||MAGICOOL||Mark Kavanagh||James Winks||4.2L||5||58kg||$61|
|12||7||WEARY (FR)||Chris Waller||Craig Newitt||5.2L||12||59kg||$17|