Japanese trainer Yoshinori Muto is not prepared to predict his long-awaited Group One victory will happen far away from home at Randwick but is more than happy with Pre Stwick’s lead-in to the Sydney Cup.
Muto has yet to prepare a Group One winner in 15 years of training so the trip to Australia will be particularly memorable should the first Japanese horse to contest the $2 million Sydney Cup a 3200m-staying test upset the likes of Almandin, Sir Charles Road and Aloft.
Pre Stwick, who has had a slight name change so has not to be confused with Australian horse Prestwick, has had a final light work-out at Canterbury.
Former jockey Muto, 51, was pleased with what he saw on Friday morning, a day before the Cup.
“The horse has been here for three weeks and he’s settled in very well,” Muto said.
“He’s been relaxed for the duration and everything has gone to plan.”
Not even unusually fine, hot weather has been a deterrent for the grey.
“He loves a heavy track but I’m not worried about the lack of rain. The majority of his races have been on firmer tracks than Randwick,” Muto said.
Randwick was in the good range on Friday after 14mm of irrigation since Sunday.
Muto’s pressing concern is bringing Hong Kong’s champion jockey Joao Moreira up to speed with the seven-year-old when he arrives less than 24 hours before the race.
“I expect a solid pace so hopefully Joao can slip him into midfield with cover and relax him for a smooth run.” he said.
Muto said Pre Stwick’s owners the Silk Horse Club would likely return to Sydney given their experience so far.
“I’d be more than happy to come back. I’ll think more specifically about aiming horses for Sydney,” Muto said.
“The facilities have made it very easy to train and prep the horse. Sydney could become a genuine target for other Japanese stables.”
Pre Stwick has six wins from 35 starts and $1.6 million prize money.
In his most recent start in the Group Three Diamond Stakes (3400m) in Tokyo on February 17 he was fifth behind Fame Game who ran in the 2015 Melbourne Cup.
Japanese horses have fared well in Sydney in recent years with Hana’s Goal and Real Impact claiming the 2014 All Aged Stakes and 2015 George Ryder Stakes respectively.
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