Irish-bred galloper Mutual Regard will begin a campaign aimed at a second Melbourne Cup attempt when he resumes for new trainer John Sadler at Flemington.
Sadler considered a start for the seven-year-old against Group One opposition in the Makybe Diva Stakes but has settled on the easier option of the Spring Is The Season Handicap (1700m).
Former champion Irish jockey Johnny Murtagh bought Mutual Regard to Australia for last year’s Melbourne Cup in which the horse finished 14th to Protectionist.
Along with stablemate Royal Diamond, the seven-year-old was left with Sadler for a shot at this year’s Cup.
Unfortunately, Royal Diamond went amiss and returned to Ireland while Mutual Regard suffered a suspensory injury which has necessitated a slow and steady build-up.
Sadler has been loath to put a saddle on Mutual Regard except for the horse’s gallops on the course proper and some slow work, preferring to use the treadmill for most of his conditioning.
“He’s come along nicely and will certainly need the run on Saturday but I’m looking forward to taking him to the races,” Sadler said.
“Soft tissue injuries are always a concern but he’s been rehabilitated and so far, so good.
“Every time he gallops you go back and hopefully find his legs nice and cold and so far he’s stood up really well.”
Sadler said he would see how Mutual Regard came through Saturday’s race before deciding his next move but was mindful a win in the Geelong Cup could help the stayer gain a start in the Melbourne Cup.
Mutual Regard will have 15 rivals at Flemington including VRC Oaks winner Set Square and Group One placegetters Extra Zero, Bondeiger, Like A Carousel and Thunder Lady.