Group One winner Almalad will make his Melbourne debut at Moonee Valley as trainer Gai Waterhouse chases a third-straight Bill Stutt Stakes victory.
Almalad, winner of the J J Atkins, arrived at Waterhouse’s Flemington base last week and will run in Friday night’s Group Two race over 1600m at Moonee Valley.
It is the same race Waterhouse used two years ago to kick off star colt Pierro’s Melbourne spring campaign and he won the race by almost five lengths before placing in the Caulfield Guineas and Cox Plate.
Last year Divine Calling won the Stutt Stakes for Waterhouse, surviving a protest from Craig Williams aboard subsequent Cox Plate winner Shamus Award.
Divine Calling went on to finish second to Long John in the Caulfield Guineas.
Almalad and older stablemate Sweet Idea will work at Moonee Valley on Monday.
Waterhouse has selected the Stutt Stakes as the right race for Almalad, who has the Cox Plate as one of his targets, while stablemate Liberation will run in the Caulfield Guineas Prelude.
“I’m going to have a special feed room for Liberation. He eats so much,” Waterhouse said.
“And Almalad has settled right in.
“They are both happy horses.”
Liberation was sent back to the trials after his erratic race manners in the straight caused havoc for some of his rivals, and ruined his own chances, in the Up And Coming Stakes.
Waterhouse has since sent to colt to the dressage arena, which she believes has helped him, and the three-year-old trialled at Randwick on September 11 and was passed by stewards.
“I trialled him and he wore a cheeker. And that’s about it. And blinkers,” Waterhouse said, saying she was happy with the colt’s trial.
Waterhouse said Wandjina would also run in the Caulfield Guineas Prelude at Caulfield next Sunday.
Almalad finished fourth in the Group One Golden Rose second-up and his Stutt Stakes opposition is expected to include Caulfield Guineas favourite Chivalry.
Waterhouse was at Caulfield on Saturday to watch some of her spring carnival aspirants in actions including The Offer who finished ninth of 10 in the Underwood Stakes (1800m) but was beaten just over three lengths after settling at the back of the field.
The Offer has retained his place at the top of Melbourne Cup betting.
“I thought he ran super,” Waterhouse said.
“He got too far back and he relaxed too much for him (jockey Tommy Berry). He was a little bit of a victim of circumstance.”