Trainer Mick Price insists Grunt is on target to perform strongly in the $5 million All-Star Mile despite a midfield finish in a Group Three handicap in his only lead-up race.
Grunt finished sixth in the Shaftesbury Avenue Handicap (1400m) at Flemington eight days ago when he lumped 61.5kg in the race won by Violate.
Price was using the race as Grunt’s springboard to this Saturday’s inaugural All-Star Mile over the Flemington 1600m.
Grunt has excelled over the course and distance with Group One wins in last year’s Australian Guineas and Makybe Diva Stakes and the trainer said the four-year-old had come through his first-up run perfectly.
“He worked super on Saturday morning,” Price said.
“I’m very happy with him and he’s on the up and up all the time.
“He’ll show up in the All-Star Mile and give a really good account of himself.”
“He was beaten 2.9 lengths first-up. Perhaps if he would have run third everyone says, ‘he’s just about to win’.
“You will see him turn up in the mile and you will see him run really well.”
The All-Star Mile has a field of 14 which features 10 horses voted by the public and four wild cards issued by Racing Victoria.
Grunt secured the third-most votes to get his spot in the field and was at $15 on Sunday on the seventh line of betting.
Happy Clapper, Hartnell, Mystic Journey and Hawkshot are the wild cards while star Godolphin-owned mare Alizee is the $3 favourite.
The James Cummings-trained multiple Group One winner Alizee had a gallop between races at Flemington on Saturday in preparation for the All-Star Mile which will be her first start at Flemington although she is stabled at the course while she is in Melbourne.
The mare is unbeaten in three starts this preparation including the Group One Futurity Stakes at Caulfield at her most recent start.
“She has got to be the one to beat,” Price said.
“She’s trained at the track and she’s in sparkling weight-for-age form. She’s got to be the clear pick.”
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au