Gai Waterhouse was bubbling with enthusiasm about Descarado’s Cox Plate prospects after he found his best form to lead all the way in the Group One Caulfield Stakes.
Her 2010 Caulfield Cup winner had a delayed start to his spring campaign due to a setback in training and it wasn’t until this week Waterhouse and jockey Nash Rawiller were confident they had him right again.
“Of course he’ll win the Cox Plate,” a jubilant Waterhouse said after the $13 chance held out Avienus ($51) by three-quarters of a length with Lights Of Heaven ($11) 1-1/2 lengths away third.
“I knew he would come right, just (from) the way he was training.
“He’s carried more condition than he ever has before and one of the owners said to me before ‘what about those hard wraps on his hind legs?’ and I said ‘that’s just for decoration’.”
Rawiller is also confident about his Cox Plate chances.
“That’s the way to ride him I think. He is a very good stayer and I rode him like he was the best stayer,” he said.
“I thought if he had two or three lengths on some of the more in-form stayers he’d be very hard to beat.
“The Cox plate is obviously a race we all want to win, it’s the weight-for-age championship.
“I’m just rapt to see the horse back at his best. It’s been a long road for the horse and if he comes out and blows them all away in two weeks I won’t be at all surprised.
“We’ll try and outstay them again.”
Rawiller said three or four weeks ago he thought Descarado wasn’t going to come up.
“But to Gai’s credit she had faith all the way along that she could get him right,” he said.
The five-year-old went into the race second up after finishing second last to King Lionheart in the Group Two Shannon Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill last month.
The Caulfield Stakes was only the gelding’s fifth run since he failed to finish in the Melbourne Cup last spring but he did show a glimpse of from in the autumn when narrowly beaten by Zavite when runner-up in the Group One Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill.
Trainer Murray Baker was mystified by the run of last-start Underwood Stakes winner Lion Tamer ($2.60 fav) who finished second last of the 11 runners, beating home another disappointment in Alcopop who was runner-up in the race to So You Think last year.
“It was a poor effort. It was like he wasn’t interested,” Baker said.
“I’ll put blinkers on him in the Cox. That was a shocker.”
Descarado is a $15 chance for the Cox Plate with TAB Sportsbet which has New Zealander Jimmy Choux the $4.40 favourite.
Lion Tamer is now at $9.