Ben Melham is growing in confidence by the day that multiple Group One winner Dissident will be strong over the Cox Plate distance.
His opinion will be put to the test in what is being billed as a mini-Cox Plate in Saturday’s Group One Caulfield Stakes.
The top four horses in the market for the $3 million Cox Plate (2040m) on October 25 are set to clash in Saturday’s weight-for-age 2000m race.
Melham, who has ridden Dissident in his three starts this campaign for two Group One wins and a close second, was happy with the horse’s solo work-out on Tuesday over 1600m on the Caulfield course proper where he was clocked at 24.56sec for his last 400m.
“He’s pretty casual but he’s certainly well in himself,” Melham said.
“The more I have to do with him the more confident I am that the 2000 metres won’t be a drama for him.
“You definitely want to see him do it though.”
Dissident won the Memsie Stakes (1400m) and Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) in his first two starts this campaign.
Dropping back in distance and carrying 58kg in the Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m), Dissident was brave in defeat as Trust In A Gust, carrying 6kg less, denied him in a head-bobbing finish.
Dissident’s only run over 2000m was in this year’s Rosehill Guineas on a wet track so trainer Peter Moody says he is treating Saturday’s race as if it is the four-year-old’s first try at the distance.
While the strength of the 17 Caulfield Stakes nominations was probably stronger than he anticipated, Melham said he expected Dissident to run another big race.
“I can just tell in his trackwork, he’s so casual that if you clock off on him too much he’ll come right back underneath you. So that’s what makes me think he’ll be no worries at the trip,” he said.
“He’s got good attributes. He begins really well and then you can turn him off and he’ll relax for you.”
Fawkner and Sacred Falls are Cox Plate favourites at $7 with Happy Trails and Dissident at $10.
Moody is looking for Dissident to prove himself at 2000m on Saturday to be confident heading to the Cox Plate.
“It’s not a necessity for him to win (on Saturday), but it’s a necessity for him to give me every indication he’s going to run it out strongly,” Moody said.