Trainer Kris Lees believes how Mustajeer handles the occasion and the Caulfield track will have a major bearing on his chances to make a winning introduction to Australian racing.
Mustajeer makes his Australian debut and first start for Lees in Saturday’s $5 million Caulfield Cup over 2400m, his first race since winning the Ebor Handicap at York in late August.
“I think he’s certainly up to this grade, no doubt,” Lees said.
“And it’s just a matter of how he handles Caulfield. I’m sure he’ll be better suited, like a lot of these style of horses, at Flemington but I expect him to race very well for us on Saturday.”
Lees said the gelding had settled in well to where he is stabled at Caulfield since leaving quarantine at Werribee last weekend, and the stayer had a course proper gallop with race jockey Damien Oliver aboard on Tuesday morning.
“He arrived very fit so it’s just about giving him a bit of experience around the track,” Lees said.
“Damien was quite happy with him. He wasn’t out to run time. He had a good look around and he will be better for the experience.”
Lees said Mustajeer was a good style of horse whose preparation since arriving in Victoria just over two weeks ago had gone smoothly.
“They said he can get a bit quirky race day so that will be a new experience and we’ll see how he handles things with the big atmosphere and big crowd, but on the track he’s been no problems,” Lees said.
“I’m still learning about him but he arrived in really good order, very fit, so it’s just a matter of trying to keep him in that condition.”
Mustajeer, who is on the third line of betting, was also led around the Caulfield mounting yard on Monday as part of the preparation to get him used to the pre-race routines in Australia.
“It will be about getting him relaxed as much as we can and we’ll make contact with the stewards about just getting him on the track a little bit earlier,” Lees said.
“Once he’s on the track he’s fine. It will be an all new experience for him but I expect he’ll handle it well.”
Lees said on Tuesday morning he would let owners Australian Bloodstock decide whether to also run Big Duke in the Caulfield Cup or the St Leger in Sydney.