Chris Waller has three runners in the 2014 Banjo Paterson Series Final and he believes that Mulaqen is the horse to beat in the $120,000 event at Flemington on Saturday.
Mulaqen started his winter preparation with a disappointing 11th in the Hyland Race Colours Handicap (1400m) at Royal Randwick on May 24, but he has improved each time that he has stepped up in distance this campaign; finishing fifth in the Races.com.au Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick on June 7, fourth in the Freshmark Handicap (2000m) at Rosehill Hardens on June 14 and third in the Listed Winter Cup (2400m) at Rosehill Gardens on June 28.
The Haafhd gelding had no luck in the Winter Cup, with the six-year-old blocked for a run and checked at the 200 metre mark, but Waller is confident that the progressive galloper can record the first win of his campaign in the Banjo Paterson Series Final tomorrow.
“Mulaqen I think that the Flemington style of race will suit him, he likes a bit of pace on and gets rolling like a European horse should,” Waller said.
“I think that he is well placed and he will be hard to beat.”
Mulaqen will be joined in the Banjo Paterson Series Final by both Permit and Sacred Flyer; with Permit set to carry the top weight of 60 kilograms in the 2600 metre event.
Permit has performed consistently during his winter campaign and was not far away from Mulaqen in the Winter Cup, but Waller is worried about the potential rain that is forecast in Melbourne tomorrow and he does not want to run the Dansili gelding on a wet track.
“Permit will keep them honest with his big weight as he always does and a dead track is no problem, but a slow track is a problem,” Waller said.
“If we get any rain on the day he could be pulled out and then he will go for a nice break.”
Sacred Flyer took out an earlier heat of the Banjo Paterson Series at Flemington on June 14, but he suffered respiratory issues when finishing sixth behind Crafty Cruiser at Flemington on June 28.
“Sacred Flyer has another bad draw and I just thought he was a bit soft the other day,” Waller said.
Mulaqen ($4.40) is battling for favouritism in 2014 Banjo Paterson Series Final betting markets with Marksmanship ($4.40), while Sacred Flyer is available at a quote of $5 and Permit at the lengthy odds of $14.