Running at Flemington on AAMI Victoria Derby day proved the springboard to Emirates Melbourne Cup success for Shocking last year and Mark Kavanagh is sticking with the winning formula this year.
The star five-year-old will round out his preparation for Tuesday’s $6 million event, in which he has backed into $4.50 favourite, in Saturday’s $1 million Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m).
It’s a slight deviation from last year, when Shocking contested the Lexus Stakes (2500m), but is the schedule that best suits the unlucky last-start Caulfield Cup fourth placegetter according to Kavanagh.
“He butters up well, history shows that, but at the end of the day we treat each horse and their condition on where they are at the time,” the Flemington trainer said.
“He didn’t have any sort of a gut-buster in the Caulfield Cup and he is a stallion, he does pretty well, and I just think that Saturday’s race will tune him up perfectly for Tuesday.”
But despite Shocking’s almost impeccable Flemington record – five starts for four wins and a narrow second in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes – Kavanagh isn’t confident about the Mackinnon.
The presence of champion four-year-old So You Think, winner of last week’s Cox Plate in which the Kavanagh-trained Whobegotyou finished third, is the reason for that.
“It’s unfortunate that we’re going to have to chase So You Think again,” he said. “He’s the weight-for-age champion and my horses here are just sick of looking at his rump and his tail.
“We’re in it (the Mackinnon) to win but I couldn’t see, with all due to respect to him, Shocking turning the tables on him.”
Shocking and So You Think aren’t the only Melbourne Cup hopes engaged in a stellar Mackinnon with Caulfield Cup winner Descarado, Cox Plate fourth placegetter Shoot Out and Doomben Cup winner Metal Bender also engaged.
While Kavanagh can’t escape So You Think, one of his other Derby day runners should appreciate getting away from another star of Australian racing.
Classy sprinter Catapulted has finished second to Hay List at his only two runs this campaign but will relish the absence of the superstar former West Australian in the $300,000 Group 2 Seppelt Salinger Stakes (1200m).
Catapulted has drawn barrier 11 in the 14-horse event, which includes dual Stradbroke winner Black Piranha (12), explosive sprinter All Silent (four), defending champion Eagle Falls (one), Sydney star Shellscrape (three) and star mare Set For Fame (five).
Like Shocking, Catapulted will be ridden by Kavanagh stable jockey Michael Rodd.
Fill fields for AAMI Victoria Derby day can be accessed by clicking on the link