The Cranbourne Cup could be a stepping stone to the Group One Mackinnon Stakes for Mourinho.
Trained by Peter Gelagotis and ridden by Craig Newitt, Mourinho ($4.60) led for the 2025 metres and held off More Than Sacred ($8.50) by a neck with $3.80 favourite Le Roi another half length away.
The trainer’s brother and stable manager, Manny Gelagotis, said Mourinho deserved a chance at an even bigger race.
“We’ve tried him at weight-for-age and he went well so he deserves a chance at the Mackinnon,” Gelagotis said.
“He is a very tough horse. He was the best horse in the race and I’m thrilled.”
Mourinho finished second to The Cleaner in the Group Two Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) with the win earning the Tasmanian horse automatic entry to the Cox Plate.
Newitt said Mourinho had the race in his keeping from the outset although he shifted out in the straight.
“He flew the gates. He kicked through held the front and was still really strong on the line,” he said.
“He came out a little bit but always going to hold them.”
That shift cost Newitt a six meeting suspension to begin immediately, allowing him to return to ride Seismos in Saturday’s Caulfield Cup.