Beau Mertens will team up with Abbey Marie in the Caulfield Cup and the apprentice believes the mare trained by his boss is peaking at the right time.
Mertens rode the Mick Kent-trained Abbey Marie in her final Cup lead-up last Saturday in the Group One Caulfield Stakes (2000m).
Despite finishing eighth, the rider was taken by the way the five-year-old warmed to the task late in the race.
Abbey Marie has 51.5kg and has drawn well in barrier five which has boosted Mertens’ hopes he can become the first apprentice since Brent Stanley on Arctic Scent 21 years ago to win the Caulfield Cup (2400m) on Saturday.
It will be a first Caulfield Cup ride for last season’s champion Melbourne apprentice.
“This time last year I was riding in the country for the spring,” Mertens said.
“It’s a bit of a change but I’m happy to be there.
“I’m definitely excited.
“I rode her last start and she finished off really well.
“I think she’s peaking just in time to put in a big one.”
Mertens had a meteoric rise in the second half of last season to be in contention for the Melbourne jockeys’ premiership.
He finished second to Craig Williams with 73 city wins and was a clear winner of the apprentices’ title.
Mertens outrode his claim in July, while this spring he won his first Group race aboard Showtime in the Group Two Bill Stutt Stakes for the Hawkes Racing stable.
On Wednesday he added a Group Three win on Abbey Marie’s stablemate Quilate in the Ladies’ Day Vase at Caulfield.
Abbey Marie, winner of the 2016 Group One Australasian Oaks, is at $21 to give Mertens a first Group One win and the 20-year-old believes they have a genuine chance.
Mertens is one of two apprentices riding in the Cup with Ben Allen aboard Herbert Power Stakes winner Lord Fandango.