Except for one blemish, the Australian Cup preparation of imported stayer Mirage Dancer has been spot-on.
Perfect trackwork, strong jump-outs, favourable weather conditions and an outstanding performance in his final lead-up have co-trainer Trent Busuttin confident going into the Group One race.
His only black mark this campaign has been his last in the C F Orr Stakes.
Avilius ($3.60) heads the market ahead of Perth horse Regal Power ($6), last-start Blamey Stakes winner Fifty Stars ($6.50) and Group One Turnbull Stakes winner Kings Will Dream ($7).
Previously prepared by Sir Michael Stoute, Mirage Dancer was bought for the big Cups last spring and after running third at Caulfield he failed to stay the 3200m of the Melbourne Cup finishing 14th behind Vow And Declare.
Busuttin was looking forward to Mirage Dancer’s return in the Orr (1400m) at Caulfield on February 8 but was shocked to see the horse finish more than 9-1/2 lengths behind the winner Alabama Express.
While the six-year-old had been entered for the Dubai World Cup at Meydan later this month and had been inoculated for the trip, Busuttin was not using that as an excuse.
“He just put in one that was too bad to be true,” Busuttin said.
“He was absolutely flying at home and I thought he’d run big fresh.
“We couldn’t find anything so we put a line through it and decided to carry on but I said to the owners we were in real trouble if the horse didn’t run well second-up.”
Two weeks later Busuttin and and partner Natalie Young were in a much better frame on mind.
Earlier in the day they scored their first Group One win since making the move from New Zealand 3-1/2 years ago when Tagaloa won the Blue Diamond Stakes before Mirage Dancer charged home for his third placing behind Miss Siska in the Peter Young Stakes on February 22.
“He was great last start against the bias and the 2000 metres on the big track looks ideal,” Busuttin said.
“Anywhere between 2000 and 2400 metres is his go.
“Everything has gone to plan and he worked up well on Tuesday, so he’s right on target.
“Even with the rain we’ve had, Flemington will dry out and it should be ideal.”