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A sharp work-out by Mourinho has persuaded trainer Peter Gelagotis to begin the stayer’s campaign sooner than planned in the Group Two Australia Stakes.

Originally Mourinho was to run first-up in the Carlyon Cup (1600m) at Caulfield on February 14, but when extra nominations were called for Saturday’s Group Two sprint at Moonee Valley, Gelagotis decided to take up the challenge.

Mourinho was due to have another trial in two weeks but Gelagotis reasoned the match practice in the Australia Stakes would be more beneficial.

“Admittedly we didn’t have this race in our plans whatsoever but he did trial very forward at Cranbourne on Monday,” Gelagotis said.

“We’ve never run him over 1200 metres in his career but he was on the bit in the trial, nice and sharp, and I just thought if we wait a week and go to a trial it’s going to cost us money.

“I know it’s not his distance but he goes well fresh and if he could run in the first half dozen I’d be rapt.

“Plus we get a good blow-out under our belt.

“We get good match fitness out of it and it rolls nicely into the Carlyon Cup.”

Following the Carlyon Cup, Mourinho will progress to the Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 28 and with a light autumn campaign mapped out the gelding will be spelled after the Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14.

Gelagotis harbours ambitions to get Mourinho to the Cox Plate in the spring.

Mourinho was being aimed at the Cox Plate last year but was left out of the field by the Moonee Valley Race Club committee who gave three-year-old Wandjina the final spot.

“We’ll give him a Cox Plate prep in the spring,” Gelagotis said.

“He’s a three to four length better horse at Moonee Valley and if he can win the Dato Tan Chin Nam in the spring that gets him into the race.”

After a first-up success at Moonee Valley in September last year, Mourinho ran second to The Cleaner in last year’s Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes.

 
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