Arguably finding career-best form over an impressive 2014 spring campaign, Team Gelagotis have included Mourinho as a late nomination for Saturday’s featured Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley.
Finishing outside the places just once over spring, Mourinho has not been seen at the races since finishing a luckless seventh when caught wide in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 1st.
Having reportedly taken well to his time away from competition, Racing Manager Manny Gelagotis told Racing Victoria the team is thrilled with the condition of the Oratorio gelding and are confident of another successful campaign beginning with Saturday’s Australia Stakes.
“He looks amazing, Damien Oliver trialled him yesterday and he was thrilled with him,” Gelagotis said.
“He said he was a lot more advanced and forward than when he trialled him before he won first up last preparation.
“He is absolutely in a different stratosphere that horse, I can’t explain it, he’s just been a revelation. Twelve months ago he was a nice Listed level horse and he’s just gone to another level.”
Initially eyeing the Group 3 Carlyon Cup (1600m) at Caulfield as the first point of call for the seven-year-old, Gelagotis said that will now figure as his second autumn appearance ahead of the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) on February 28th and Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) on March 14th.
“Based on the way he’s trialled and the way he’s going, we thought he’s better off having this run and then three weeks into the Carlyon Cup rather than giving him another trial and going fresh into that race,” he added.
“If his form warrants it we’ll head towards the Australian Cup.”
Securing seven wins and a further eight minor places over his 31 start career, Mourinho comfortably won a minor over 1500m upon returning to racing in spring before placing second in the Group 2 Dato’Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) and third in the Group 3 JRA Cup (2040m) before returning to the winner’s circle in the Listed Cranbourne Cup (2025m) in his only other start prior to the Mackinnon Stakes.
Returning for a credible third in the Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m) on January 10th, trainers Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra have also included Hard Stride as a late nomination for the 2015 Australia Stakes.
A final field and barrier draw for the Australia Stakes is due to be completed and released on Wednesday.