A year after being snubbed at the selection table, eight-year-old Mourinho returns as a battle-hardened Group One winner for his shot at the Cox Plate.
Connections of the Peter Gelagotis-trained Mourinho accepted for the Cox Plate 12 months ago but the Moonee Valley Racing Club committee used its discretion and left him out of the.
Since then Mourinho has won three Group Two weight-for-age races and landed a Group One Underwood Stakes win.
“He was heading in that direction (Cox Plate last year) and as I’ve publicly said before, he probably wasn’t worthy to be in the field last year but neither were two others,” Manny Gelagotis, racing manager for his brother Peter, said this week.
“That was the situation that unfolded so that’s passed now and certainly now he’s earned his stripes and thankfully he’s vindicated our opinion of the horse. He’s certainly an A grader now.”
Mourinho is one of the outsiders in a Cox Plate field which has attracted Australia’s best weight-for-age horses and three internationals.
But Manny Gelagotis believes Mourinho has the attributes needed to win a Cox Plate.
“The timing is everything with him and he’s run the quickest Underwood Stakes in the past 15 years and some champions have won that race,” he said.
“He’s got some serious scalps.
“This is a race where you can’t hide. He’s got a big motor, he’s a big boy and when he’s on song he’s a big, robust, strong horse that fights to the end.”