Underwood Stakes flop Grunt could line up against the champion mare Winx in the Group 1 $500,000 Seppelt Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Trainer Mick Price admits that Grunt fails to produce his best form at Caulfield and blames his dislike for the track for his lacklustre sixth as the $3.40 favourite in the Group 1 $750,000 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) on Sunday.
Damian Oliver was forced to take Grunt to the front after 200m when he failed to slot in behind the pace, but the four year old was under pressure on the home turn and finished four and a half lengths behind the Liam Howley trained, Lloyd Williams owned European import Homesman.
“His form at Caulfield is woeful with the worst three runs of his life at the track,” Price told racing.com.
“On the other hand his best three runs (and wins) have been at Flemington so we’re looking forward to getting him back there even if it means we’ll run into Winx.
“We have now had to cancel out going to Caulfield but we’re still intent on going to the Cox Plate and if I don’t run on Saturday, you are forced to run again at Caulfield.”
“He was hopeless. Ollie (Damien Oliver) just got off and said he changed stride four or five times around the corner. He said he’s not comfortable here. He doesn’t like it here so you can’t keep banging your head against the wall.
“The three worst runs of his career have been at Caulfield. I gave him the benefit of the doubt until we got to the 1800 metres but that was not to be.
“We’re going to use that information properly and go to the Turnbull.”
Price will have to call on the services of Mark Zahra to take the reins on Grunt when he tackles Winx in Turnbull Stakes after Oliver had a previous commitment to ride the Chris Waller trained Dealmaker in the Group 1 $500,000 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Oliver will then most likely be back aboard when Grunt lines up again against Winx in the Group 1 $5m Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley on October 27.
Fourteen horses make up the original nominations for the Turnbull Stakes with three of Winx’s Waller trained stablemates among the entries, Egg Tart, Unforgotten and Youngstar.
Winx will be chasing her twenty-eighth consecutive win and her twenty-first Group 1 win in the Turnbull Stakes which will be her last lead up run to try to make it four Cox Plate victories in a row.
Nominations for the 2018 Turnbull Stakes (2000m)
|#||Last 10||Horse||Sex||Age||Trainer||Hcp Rating|
|1||4x1331x140||DIVINE UNICORN (GB)||G||5||Matthew Dunn||99|
|2||400521×533||EGG TART||M||5||Chris Waller||107|
|3||x1111x5816||GRUNT (NZ)||H||4||Mick Price||113|
|4||1x68139x43||JON SNOW (NZ)||H||5||Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman||110|
|5||x11111x432||KINGS WILL DREAM (IRE)||G||5||Darren Weir||107|
|6||41x780x006||MIGHTY BOSS||H||4||Mick Price||104|
|7||2x115627x2||ORDEROFTHEGARTER (IRE)||H||5||Liam Howley||99|
|8||2x04331x22||RISING RED (NZ)||G||5||Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young||101|
|10||116×632117||TRAP FOR FOOLS||G||5||Jarrod McLean||104|
|12||x437829x79||VENTURA STORM (IRE)||G||6||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||104|