MELBOURNE Cup prospect Moudre will use the $500,000 group 1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington today as an important link to his chances of winning the famous $6.2 million race on the first Tuesday in November.
Trainer Ciaron Maher, who has stables at Winslow and Caulfield, said the seven-year-old had thrived since his first-up minor placing in the group 2 Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington on Saturday, September 8.
“I can’t fault Moudre,” he said. “He pulled up a million dollars after his run in the Makybe Diva.
“I’ve wanted to keep him fresh. He seems to run his best races like that.
“I gave him a barrier trial over 1190 metres at Cranbourne late last month and he went really well.
“He’s drawn a wide barrier in the Turnbull but I reckon with a bit of luck he will be in the finish.
“We’ve got Southern Speed inside us, so we’ll probably go across with her from the barrier.
“Moudre’s got a good turn of foot. He’s better held up off the pace. If he’s within them when they straighten up, he’ll be hard to beat.”
The former jumps jockey said the Turnbull Stakes was part of the plan to get Moudre to run out the solid two miles in the Melbourne Cup.
“He’s looking for the 2000 metres of the Turnbull Stakes,” Maher said.
“We’ll weigh up our options of another run before the Melbourne Cup after his Turnbull start.
“The ideal plan is to run him in the Caulfield Cup (2400 metres on October 20) and then into the Melbourne Cup, but we’ll be guided after his run today. He ran really good sectional times in the Makybe Diva. I reckon he’s a lot better since that run.
“We’re well weighted today. He runs his best races at Flemington, so we’ve got a lot of things in our favour.”
Moudre was having his first start in more than 18 months in the Makybe Diva Stakes after recovering from a tendon injury to his off-front leg when he finished two lengths behind Southern Speed and Manighar.
Maher said the horse had made a great recovery from the injury.
“He’s shown no signs of soreness. I would say he’s probably feeling the best he has in his career,” he said.
“I really can’t fault him. He’s as sound as a bell. When you race at the highest level, which Moudre is doing now, you can’t carry any little niggling injuries into your races. We’re running against some top horses today but I reckon with a bit of luck we’ll be really competitive at the end of the 2000 metres.
“We’ve ticked all the boxes in his preparation to this race. We can’t do any more.”
Moudre, which has won more than $550,000 in stakemoney, is quoted as a 15-1 chance with TAB to win today’s Turnbull Stakes.