Evergreen Oratorio gelding Mourinho produced another strong first-up effort to score a very narrow win over The Cleaner in the 1400m Gr2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday.
The Cleaner took up his customary position at the head of the P.B. Lawrence Stakes field and he made sure that the race was run at a strong tempo, while Excess Knowledge and Mourinho were settled just behind the leader.
The Cleaner looked like a tired horse coming into the straight and looked like he was going to be run down by the majority of his rivals, but he kept battling away and fought off all his rivals except for Mourinho, who managed to get his nose in front in the shadows of the post.
Darryl Blackshaw has trained Mourinho since regular trainer Peter Gelagotis received a suspension for a race day treatment and he was clearly delighted that he had scored the biggest win of his training career to date, but he was quick to pay credit to the other members of his team that have done plenty of work with the eight-year-old.
“I felt at the top of the straight that we had him and he looked good,” Blackshaw said.
“Darren and the workers at home do a great job with him and they had him spot on, I don’t really know because I haven’t had him for very long.
“The foreman has been here the whole time and he thought that he was right.
“It is exciting.”
Jockey Vlad Duric has developed a strong partnership with Mourinho since he steered him to victory in the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) earlier this year and he was thrilled to have scored another feature race win on the son of Oratorio.
Duric revealed after the race that Mourinho had tired in the final stages of the P.B. Lawrence Stakes and he was quick to pay credit to the toughness that The Cleaner showed when he was challenged in the straight.
“He is getting better with age,” Duric said.
“He trialed up just beautiful at Sale the other day against a five furlong horse and he gave me a beautiful feel, so I was really confident that he would come here and run well.
“He was feeling the pinch a little bit late, which is natural.
“I was going to beat him a length, but he fought really hard, and The Cleaner is a great horse.
“If we had gone another 50 yards he might have kicked back and beat me, but we got the job done today.
“Both horses are going to improve going into the Dato and that is sure to be another great race.”
The Cleaner and Mourinho will renew acquaintances in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 5 and both will head towards the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at the same venue on October 24.