Andrew Campbell doesn’t look like the sort of guy that will ever be relaxed in the lead-up to the BECK Caulfield Guineas, but he is breathing easier after today’s $120,000 Listed Essendon Nissan McKenzie Stakes at Moonee Valley.
The Kiwi trainer’s stable star Cauthen not only assured his place in the Guineas, but shot to the top of betting charts for the $1 million event on 12 October, with a brilliant victory in the 1200-metre event.
The victory atoned for an unlucky first-up defeat at Moonee Valley on 3 August and took his earnings to more than $90,000, which was a relief to the trainer who admits to being a bundle of nerves before each race.
“We’re under a lot of pressure to get him to the Guineas, with his prizemoney, and that’s going to help us a long way now,” Campbell said. “It’s brilliant.
“That’s why he came over for the 1000-metre race three weeks ago, just to try and get in there without having to pressure-cooker him towards the end.”
Like at his Australian debut, when a mid-race check cost him victory, Cauthen unleashed an impressive burst in the short Moonee Valley straight.
He gobbled up leader Clevadude, who was his conqueror earlier in the month, at the top of the straight and swiftly put the race beyond doubt.
The $2.60 favourite was looked after by jockey James McDonald late and had 1-1/2 lengths to spare over Shamus Award ($5.50), who had trouble getting a run until well into the straight. The previously unbeaten Long John ($6) hit the line well for third, three-quarters-of-a-length back.
McDonald was taken by the performance and suggested the son of Darci Brahma will be better as the races get longer.
“He got into a lovely rhythm today,” he said. “Probably that 1000-metre race really took the sharpness out of him. He felt quite dour today and he’s probably looking for that 14 (hundred metres) to a mile.
“As soon as he straightened up he changed leg and he just powered home, he’s a good colt.”
Cauthen will next be seen at Flemington on 7 September for the Henry Bucks Best Dressed Stakes before taking in the $175,000 Group 3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude on Sunday 29 September.
Story by Brad Bishop