Price is right on extra Grunt
THE jury might be out on several of the beaten brigade, but the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington yesterday reaffirmed what trainer Mick Price already knew – Grunt is a vastly superior performer at Victoria’s racing headquarters.
Posting his third Group triumph at Flemington, Grunt ($12) not only provided jockey Damien Oliver with his 110th Group 1, and fifth success in the race, but gave Price food for thought in regards to a Melbourne Cup tilt.
Rebounding from an underwhelming eighth in the Memsie Stakes behind Humidor, Grunt showed his appreciation for Flemington’s roomy expanses by downing Caulfield Cup favourite Kings Will Dream ($5) and Jon Snow ($31).
It left Price in the best possible quandary, a dilemma over which spring feature to target, the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate or Melbourne Cup.
“He’s in everything, obviously,” Price said, outlining a possible pathway to the Caulfield Cup through a Turnbull Stakes clash with Winx.
“Or if you go Underwood Stakes and the Caulfield Stakes, you’ve got to go to the Cox Plate.
“I’m a bit concerned about how he would get around Moonee Valley but I honestly don’t know which way to go.
“I think he’d be a beautiful
staying horse. It would not worry me if we ended up in a Melbourne Cup with a lighter weight, 54 (kg) in a Melbourne Cup, it didn’t hurt Rekindling to be lightly raced.
“I’ll take a line off that (training) rookie Joe O’Brien and maybe run him in a Melbourne Cup at the end of this prep, who knows?
“He’s a beautiful big Flemington horse and he was a dominant winner today.”
Oliver added further credence to Price’s belief Grunt is significantly better at Flemington than on his home track Caulfield or The Valley.
“I’ve always said to Mick, even working him at Caulfield that ‘This is not really his track’,” Oliver said.
“Today was a little bit of D-Day for him but he’s unbeaten here at Flemington and he does enjoy the big open spaces here.
“It was a nice, truly run race and when I popped out, he just chimed in perfectly.
“Much differently to what he does at Caulfield. Grunt takes the turns and balances up.
“We saw the real Grunt today.”
Adding further lustre to part-owner Rupert Legh’s day after victory with Team Hawkes and Brutal, Price was relieved about the result.
“I was concerned he was a bit of a new kid on the block taking on older horses,” he said.
“He’s just a big Flemington horse.
“Around Caulfield, a couple of those weight-for-age horses had his measure, like Kementari and Humidor.
“Get him on the beautiful big track here and that’s him.
“I was really pleased to see him ridden a nice race.
“He was there to get mown down if they were there to mow him down.
“He was just the best horse on the day today.”
Six jockeys were questioned by stewards over interference in the Makybe Diva Stakes.
DIVA DELIGHT: The Mick Pricetrained Grunt wins the Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington yesterday – Grunt’s third Group win at the venue.