Firm deck to confirm in-form stayer’s Cup bid

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  • March 22, 2024
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Firm deck to confirm in-form stayer’s Cup bid

By Paul Vettise, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Mahrajaan will be given the chance to showcase his staying ability in Australia next month, provided the weather comes to the party.

The venture is wholly-dependant on a clear forecast for the Shaun Ritchie and Colm Murray-trained representative’s crack at the Gr.1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on April 13.

“He is booked to fly out the Monday before the Cup, but if there is any rain on the radar and the track looks like being wet then he won’t be on the plane based on the fact that he does need good footing,” Ritchie said.

“He has already won a New Zealand Cup (Gr.3, 3200m) and with a freshen-up the Auckland Cup (Gr.2, 3200m), so to ask him for a third one two mile race this season isn’t always smart,” he said.

“Having said that, since he’s been here he has got better and better in both his racing and acclimatising and getting used to the way Australasian races are run.

“We won’t be asking him to run in a lead-up race and he’ll go straight into the Sydney Cup.”

Ahead of the Australian trip, Ritchie will again incorporate a beach-based program for Mahrajaan.

“We will follow the proven method and take him to Ruakaka two weeks before the Sydney Cup and he’ll have an exhibition gallop at the meeting up there as well,” he said.

“If the track looks like being wet in Sydney, we’ve got a decision to make as to whether we give him a break and aim at Melbourne in the spring or look at the Brisbane Cup (Gr1, 3200m).

“I’ll talk to the owners and make the call at the time, but certainly we’re focussing on the Sydney Cup for now. If he does go there, then he’ll come home for a break afterwards.”

Sydney will also provide connections whether Mahrajaan could be a genuine Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) contender.

“The two positives are that the two miles is obviously no problem to him, and Flemington is like Ellerslie in that the drainage is so good and nine time out of 10 produces a firm track, that’s exactly what he needs,” Ritchie said.

“What he lacks in my opinion at this stage, is that turn of foot to sprint and win a Melbourne Cup, which recent winners have had.

“Those dour horses don’t seem to win it anymore, but having said that in every prep we have given him since he’s been here, he has got better and better.

“Clearly, the best turn of foot he has showed was in the Auckland Cup.”

Ritchie acknowledges Mahrajaan will need to continue to improve to warrant their sights being set on Flemington.

“It’s a dream to have a horse in Melbourne Cup for the owners and myself, but we wouldn’t be going around for the sake of it,” he said.

“He’s got to prove that he’s up to it and the only way to do that is to give him his best chance, which is clearly why we’re keen on Sydney.

“It would be a hit and run job and he’d come home and then be prepared correctly for the Melbourne spring.

“If he did go to Brisbane, the time shrinks for that and the other point is that he loves the beach environment and there are plenty of beaches in Melbourne.”

Bred in America, the son of Kitten’s Joy won three of his 10 starts from William Haggas’ Newmarket stable before Ritchie purchased him for 75,000gns at the 2022 Tattersalls Autumn Horses In Training Sale.

“William Haggas is a fantastic trainer with a tremendous record and, for him to have sold the horse, I’m hoping this is one that slipped through to the keeper,” Ritchie said. – LOVERACING.NZ News Desk






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