In-form gelding Second Effort will defend his Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) title against 2013 Melbourne Cup favourite Puissance De Lune and a couple of Peter Moody-trained imports at Caulfield on Saturday.
Second Effort finished the 2012/2013 racing season on a high with a trademark courageous victory in the Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield and is going into the P.B. Lawrence Stakes with a clear fitness edge over most of his main rivals who are only now beginning their spring campaigns.
Trainer Clinton McDonald deliberately got Second Effort’s preparation underway early so that he would be peaking for his grand finals – the P.B. Lawrence Stakes and the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 31 – with the hope that this would give him an advantage over his rivals who are being aimed at bigger races later in the spring.
One of these rivals is Puissance De Lune who will be making his first appearance since his brief autumn campaign, where he dead-heated with Budriguez in the Group 2 Blamey Stakes (1600m).
The imported stayer has been the clear favourite in Melbourne Cup betting markets since his dominant victories in the Listed Bendigo Cup (2400m) and Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) but will face a tough test first-up over 1400 metres – a distance he has never previously competed over.
The son of Shamardal took part in a trial at Ballarat and jockey Glen Boss told News Limited that the five-year-old had returned with a much better running action and could potentially be the best horse in Australia.
Peter Moody-trained Kesampour will make his Australian racing debut in the Group 2 race on Saturday after competing at the highest level in France.
The four-year-old has a Group 2 victory in the Prix Greffulhe (2000m) on his racing resume and was far from disgraced in the Group 1 Prix Du Jockey Club (2100m) and Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe (2400m).
Kesampour was included in the nominations for the Caulfield Cup (2400m) and Cox Plate (2040m) last week as was stablemate Sneak A Peek who is also set to resume in the Lawrence Stakes on Saturday, having not been seen at the races since finishing eighth behind Dunaden in the 2012 Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).
Beaten Australian Guineas (1600m) favourite Ajeeb, veteran stayer Bianmick and Gai Waterhouse-trained Under The Sun were also included in the nominations.