Tony McEvoy has taken plenty of positives out of Big Memory’s first-up performance, but the trainer admits the gelding faces a tougher challenge in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes.
Big Memory ended up settling last in the weight-for-age PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m) after jumping poorly before running home strongly for fourth behind Mourinho, The Cleaner and Dibayani who will all be opposition again in Saturday’s 1600m Group Two race at Moonee Valley.
Added to the mix is Cox Plate favourite Contributer who resumes and is an odds-on favourite to add to the three weight-for-age race wins he notched during the Sydney autumn.
McEvoy is aiming Big Memory at The Metropolitan and the Caulfield Cup over 2400m and is looking for another good showing on Saturday, rating the six-year-old a top-five chance.
“I’m very happy with him. He’s probably better at further than this but he’s got a liking for Moonee Valley and he showed me that he’s not far off the weight-for-age company in the Lawrence, even though this is stronger,” McEvoy said.
“I think he’ll run well.”
Big Memory will head to the Naturalism Stakes and then The Metropolitan.
The stayer was ridden back from an outside barrier in last year’s Caulfield Cup but afterwards McEvoy admitted that was a mistake as he felt the pace played against him when running home for 10th, beaten less than three lengths.
He is convinced Big Memory is capable of being a contender in feature 2400m handicaps.
“He was very unlucky in the Caulfield Cup last year. He finished close up in the Queen Elizabeth (at Flemington). He won the Herbert Power and was close up in the Lexus. He’s a high quality stayer,” McEvoy said.
The winner of the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes earns a ballot exemption into the Cox Plate and also Caulfield Cup.
McEvoy admitted if Big Memory is able to win on Saturday, he may reconsider his spring program.
“But at the moment his goal is The Metropolitan and the Caulfield Cup,” he said.
The Cleaner will be aiming for back-to-back wins in the race after denying Mourinho last year to earn his Cox Plate berth.
That pair fought out the finish last start in the PB Lawrence with Mourinho just getting the better of the tough Tasmanian galloper.