Trainer Jake Stephens has revealed that exciting imported stayer Gris Caro was only entered in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) as a precaution and is unlikely to contest the ‘race that stops a nation’.
Gris Caro made his Australian racing debut with a tough victory in the Listed Balaklava Cup (1600m) that reminded many racing experts of Alcopop’s victory in the same race four years early.
Alcopop, who shares many of the same owners as Gris Caro, went on to win the JRA Cup (2040m) and Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) before starting the 2009 Melbourne Cup as favourite but Stephens does not believe that Gris Caro is on that level at this stage of his racing career.
“A few of the owners were keen to nominate him for the Cup just in case but I don’t want to aim too high too soon with him,” Stephens told Racing Victoria.
“Gris Caro is more of a stayer who barely blows at all after his work and gives the impression that he’ll get over a fair bit of ground; he’s nowhere near as strong as Alcopop and he doesn’t have the same devastating turn of foot.
“He’s only really a four-year-old being bred to northern hemisphere time and he’s more likely to be targeted towards some of those second-tier staying races like a Moonee Valley Cup.”
Gris Caro will return to the races in the Group 3 JRA Cup at Moonee Valley on Friday and will need to improve to be competitive against a strong field that includes Group 1 winner Mr Moet, Chelmsford Stakes runner-up Lightinthenite, classy mare Oasis Bloom and the in-form The Great Snowman.
Stephens is confident that Gris Caro can handle the tricky Moonee Valley track and said that the result will decide the path the With Approval entire will take for the rest of the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival.
“I’m hopeful and reasonably confident that he should be able to handle the track, it will give us a good guide for future reference whether we do head towards a race like the Moonee Valley Cup,” the Adelaide-based trainer said.
“We’ll have to see how he pulls up after this run but ideally he’d run again in two weeks which would mean he could go to a race like the Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield.”
Gris Caro is currently on the fourth line of 2013 JRA Cup betting markets at odds of $10.