Trainer Peter Gelagotis can thank a small list of nominations for Mourinho supplying him with his biggest victory in the Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Mourinho was not among the original list of 10 nominations for the Group Two race but following an impressive jumpout at Cranbourne last Monday and with late entries being called for, the seven-year-old took his place in the 1200m race.
While Mourinho ($26) scored a short-neck victory over It Is Written ($9.50), the result played out in the stewards room when Matthew Allen on the runner-up fired in a protest against Vlad Duric on the winner for shifting out on the home turn.
After a short hearing the objection was dismissed.
Gelagotis’ previous biggest success was with Hvasstan in the Group Two Alister Clark Stakes in 2013, only to lose the race through a positive swab.
When Mourinho came back into work following a spell Gelagotis had picked out a three-run preparation for the gelding in the autumn with the starting point being the T.S. Carlyon Stakes (1600m) at Caulfield on February 14.
After the jumpout Gelagotis reasoned the cost of $300 with floating for another trial could be offset by running in the Australia Stakes and pick up a minimum of $4000 even if finishing last.
Mourinho settled down in fourth position behind Hard Stride and Tudor which surprised Gelagotis and Duric.
“I thought he would be three pairs back but I did say to Vlad to not give him a dig,” Gelagotis said.
“He landed a length further forward than expected and he was going super with 600 metres to run.
“If he didn’t hang in his races, he would be a Group One horse for sure.”
Mourinho has to trial to the satisfaction of stewards before racing again after hanging out.
Duric took confidence from Gelagotis as he was legged aboard the seven-year-old, saying he was spot on for his first-up run.
“He’s not a bad judge,” Duric said.
“I was pretty confident when he said `don’t be surprised’ as he legged me on.”
Ben Melham, who rode $1.85 favourite Dissident into third place said his mount was off the bit and chasing the whole way.
“He cornered a bit awkwardly,” Melham said.
“He’s got a big action for this track and he took a while to balance up, but when he balanced up he hit the line well.”