An ideal barrier five draw for his first run as a four-year-old has seen the Darren Weir-trained Mahuta installed at the top of the markets for Saturday’s P.B. Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield Racecourse.
Headlining the racing action in Melbourne on the weekend, this season’s $200,000 Back to Caulfield P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) field has attracted 15 final acceptances.
Five of the weight-for-age hopefuls in the line-up have opened under $10 for the win in markets at Ladbrokes.com.au including Weir’s consistent Flying Spur stallion Mahuta ($4.20).
He enjoyed six wins on the trot last season including the $2 million Magic Millions 3YO Guineas (1400m) at the Gold Coast and the Group 2 Autumn Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield in mid-February.
Things went amiss at Flemington in March when Mahuta ran a well-beaten 14th of 15 runners behind stablemate Palentino in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m).
He looked back on track however first-up on July 30 at Caulfield, where he has won two of his three starts from ahead of Saturday, when he crossed third to Lord Of The Sky in the Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m).
Returning to Caulfield on Saturday, Mahuta is looking to keep his undefeated 1400m record of four wins from as many starts over the distance in check and Brad Rawiller retains the ride on the $1.7 million earner.
Weir’s other P.B. Lawrence Stakes runner Tall Ship meanwhile is at a roughie’s price, the European import yet to win a race under 1700m.
He will be improving on whatever he does this weekend however as a proven stayer in Melbourne boasting a Group 2 Sandown Classic (2400m) second behind Who Shot Thebarman last November and a Listed Werribee Cup (2635m) win in December.
The main dangers for Mahuta to return to winning form according to the current P.B. Lawrence Stakes markets are Nigel Blackiston’s returning mare Suavito and the aforementioned Robbie Laing-trained Bletchingly Stakes winner Lord Of The Sky.
She jumps from gate seven this weekend first-up having last been seen crossing 11th in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) in Sydney, but loves racing fresh with three wins, a second and a third from five previous resuming runs.
The six-year-old daughter of Thorn Park is also something of a Caulfield specialist with four wins, a second and three thirds from eight previous runs at the track.
Lord Of The Sky is also a six-year-old, the Danerich stallion boasting the winning form over Mahuta in the Bletchingly last time out, but no wins over further than 1200m in his 24-start career to date.
Another excellent Caulfield performer looking to add to a big record at the track is the Danny O’Brien-trained mare Miss Rose De Lago.
She has three wins and third from four Caulfield runs so far and is drawn the rails this weekend with top hoop Damien Oliver riding the six-year-old daughter of Encosta De Lago.
The mares are out in force in the P.B. Lawrence this year with local horseman Ciaron Maher also accepting for both Set Square and Jameka who have won the past two editions of the Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
The duo are also both heading towards a run in the $3 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) over the mile and half on October 15 and jump from barriers 10 and eight respectively first-up on Saturday.
The other notable P.B. Lawrence Stakes acceptor this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival is the now Peter Gelagotis-trained nine-year-old The Cleaner in barrier two who is out to improve on his second in the race 12 months ago.