Maurus’ first day at the races after a serious health scare couldn’t have turned out any better for trainer David Vandyke.
Down and out as a spring prospect less than a month ago, Maurus will go into the $750,000 Metropolitan at Randwick having made a spectacular recovery from a severe colic attack.
“He was in a pretty bad way, they were close to operating,” Vandyke said.
Maurus made a complete recovery during a week’s rest on the Southern Highlands farm of his owner Paul Fudge, giving Vandyke just enough time to have him fit enough to be competitive in a Group One staying race.
The pivotal moment for Maurus came during an exhibition gallop between races last week.
Maurus ran the times Vandyke wanted, but more importantly his demeanour around the race-day stalls was much better than it was before he finished second to Silverball in the Kingston Town Stakes.
“He was nice and settled at the races, which was my concern,” Vandyke said.
“Before the Kingston Town he was very unhappy. He was sweating up, uncharacteristically.
“But he seemed to handle being at Warwick Farm well and that was the first gallop he’s had since the Kingston Town.”
Vandyke is chasing his first Group One win and the Metropolitan has been a source of frustration for the trainer.
Lamasery, the horse which launched Vandyke’s comeback to racing after a long absence from the industry, finished third in 2011 and fifth in 2012 while Prince Cheri started favourite to win in 2013 before winding up midfield.
Maurus has drawn a middle gate at Randwick on Saturday and the six-year-old is a $15 chance after markets were reframed following Tuesday’s draw.
Godolphin import Magic Hurricane held favouritism at $4 after drawing the rails while Victorian-trained stayer Almoonqith is steady at $6 despite coming up with gate 13 of 15 acceptors.
Beaten Up, one of five runners for Chris Waller, has continued to shorten with his quote now almost halved to $8 since a brave run at weight-for-age in the Hill Stakes.
Wyong Gold Cup and Newcastle Gold Cup placegetter Orbec completed his Metropolitan preparation with a gallop between races with Epsom Handicap-bound stablemate Hooked at Kembla Grange on Tuesday.