Anthony Freedman has called on jockey Lisa Cropp to cajole the best out of Caulfield and Melbourne Cup hope Above Average in the Naturalism Stakes at Caulfield.
The former English stayer has won only two of his 24 starts and Freedman believes Cropp’s strong hands and heels riding style could get the best out of him.
“He is a very tricky horse who really resents racing inside horses and I have a theory that he also resents the whip,” Freedman said.
“He is a horse you probably have to ride a bit ugly to get the best of him, but I think Lisa’s push and shove riding style will suit him.
“He has got the wider draw this time and the plan will be stay away from the fence.
“He may not win but I expect him to improve a lot from his first up run three weeks ago at Caulfield.”
Above Average was a winner over 2006 metres at Sandown in England before he joined the Freedman stable and won his first Australian start at Caulfield in March last year.
He was stakes-placed in the JRA Plate in Sydney and trained on last spring to finish third to Harris Tweed in The Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington and second to Precedence in the Moonee Valley Cup.
He was also second in the Sandown Cup (3200m) in November and second in the Manion Cup in Sydney last autumn.
Ben Melham rode him first-up when he drew barrier one, got caught on the fence, and finished ninth to Testascana over 1700 metres in the National Jockeys Celebration Day Stakes at Caulfield on August 27.
Quoted at $26 with TAB Sportsbet, Above Average would cause an upset in the Naturalism which is dominated by Caulfield Cup favourite December Draw at $1.70.
December Draw is $6.50 for the Caulfield Cup but needs to win the Naturalism to be assured of getting a run.
Lucky Eighty Eight ($10) and At First Sight ($11) are considered his biggest threats to making that happen.