Gris Caro will make his Group 1 debut in the 2014 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington on Saturday and trainer Jake Stephens is thrilled with the condition of the imported stayer heading into the $500,000 event.
Gris Caro secured himself a start in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 18 by scoring a narrow win in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on September 20 and Stephens told Racing Ahead that the With Approval had trained on strongly ahead of the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) this weekend.
“He is coming along well and feeling very good,” Stephens said.
“We sort of worked him down a little bit, but at the same time we are trying to make sure that he peaks at the right time for the Caulfield Cup now that he has got the run.
“He is looking well, he put his weight back on within three days of getting home and he is full of himself.
“He has been down a few times and he has done some water work.
“He looks really good, he probably put on 20 kilograms after that and he did a fair amount of work at the track yesterday and pulled up really well.”
Stephens said after Gris Caro’s Naturalism Stakes victory that he was considering running the five-year-old in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on October 11 before backing him up a week later in the Caulfield Cup, a pattern that he followed with Alcopop who finished second in both events in 2012, but elected to take the more conservative approach and included the imported galloper in the 2014 Turnbull Stakes field.
“We decided that timing wise it gives us the opportunity to make sure that he is in tip-top shape for the Caulfield Cup,” Stephen said.
“I was leaning towards the Caulfield Stakes, but on the back-up it just doesn’t give you the opportunity if they don’t recover as well.
“We don’t want him jarring up and then not being right.”
Ben Melham steered Gris Caro to victory in the Naturalism Stakes and will ride the talented stayer in the Turnbull Stakes, but Hong Kong-based hoop Joao Moreira has been booked to ride him in the Caulfield Cup.
Gris Caro is currently available at 2014 Turnbull Stakes odds of $18 and is priced at a quote of $26 in the 2014 Caulfield Cup betting market with Ladbrokes.