11 classy middle distance gallopers are set to tackle the mile at Sandown Racecourse on Friday in the Listed Lord Stakes (1600m), which is also known as the Master Yearlings Heat 2 Stakes, after the Brian Cox-trained Full Hand was scratched on Wednesday afternoon.
Six-year-old Mouro leads the field and trainer Tony McEvoy is hopeful the gelding can bounce back from a tenth place finish in the Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) last time out.
The multiple black-type race winning horse ran second in the Kingswood Handicap (1350m) first up this campaign before opting to run at Rosehill instead of Doomben on November 29 in the Festival Stakes. The gelding was caught three wide before going out wide in the straight. Ultimately he had no finish and lost ground over the concluding stages to finish over six lengths behind winner I’m Imposing.
Due to the disappointing result, plans to run Mouro in the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) on December 13 were scrapped in favour of the Listed Brisbane Handicap (1600m), however those plans fell through too due to a minor illness.
“I was disappointed with his last run so I’m looking for an improved performance,” McEvoy told Sky Racing.
“I was going to take him up to Brisbane and he got a bit of mucus in his airway so I had to treat him and had to scratch him from that race.
“He seems fine now and has got the all-clear from the vets. This was the next suitable race for him.”
He will return to Victorian racing for the first time since winning the Group 3 TAB Rewards Stakes (1400m) in March, a fact McEvoy is hopeful will help return Mouro to the winner’s circle on Friday.
“I’m happy with the horse. He seems fine. And he’s a good horse,” McEvoy said.
“I’m hopeful he can bounce back.”
Mouro will once again carry the 60kg top weight that he has become accustomed to receiving and jump from barrier five with Nicholas Hall in the saddle.
The Darren Weir-trained Akzar will carry half a kilogram less as he jumps from barrier seven with Brad Rawiller to ride while Group 2 Momentum Energy Stakes (2000m) fourth Tango’s Daughter will get the inside jump from barrier one with Daniel Moor serving as hoop.