Trainer Jake Stephens is confident that Gris Caro is at peak fitness for the 2014 Caulfield Cup that will be held at Caulfield Racecourse on Saturday afternoon.
Gris Caro earnt a start in the Caulfield Cup field when he scored a tough win in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on September 20, but tired in the final stages of the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 4 to finish 12th.
Stephens told Sky Racing HQ this morning that Gris Caro was not at peak fitness in the Turnbull Stakes due to a cough that he developed when making the trip from Adelaide to Melbourne, but the rising trainer believes that the With Approval entire has taken plenty of benefit from the run heading into the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) this weekend.
“We did have to seek special permission from the stewards to do a scope on him on the morning of the race because he got a cough on the trip over the day before,” Stephens said.
“On the scope he was at least a half out of 5 with a bit of mucus puss, so we had to treat him for that after that run.
“There were a few things that were against him in that run and we decided to opt to ride him a little further back even though there wasn’t a lot of speed in it.
“I really think that fitness wise he is better than that and we have worked him down a bit.
“He is a bit leaner and meaner.
“We had a bit more weight on him in the Turnbull to make sure that he is at peak condition for this one.”
World class hoop Joao Moreira has been booked to ride Gris Caro in the Caulfield Cup and Stephens said that he is very excited to have the leading jockey on his horse in such an important race.
Stephens was most impressed on Moreira when he rode three winners on Super Saturday at Royal Randwick on and the Adelaide-based trainer hopes that the jockey can give Gris Caro an edge in the Caulfield Cup.
“I must admit I was pretty excited when Bruce Clark (part owner) mentioned to me after he won the Naturalism Stakes that he thought we could get Moreira to ride,” Stephens told News Limited.
“Bruce made contact with the Hong Kong Jockey Club and found Joao was pretty keen to ride in a race such as the Caulfield Cup and we managed to get him.
“It’s a big plus for the owners to have him on and he could be the secret weapon for us.”
Gris Caro is currently available at 2014 Caulfield Cup odds of $31, while Lucia Valentina ($4.40) remains a clear favourite from Bande ($8) and Admire Rakti ($10).