She might have been Winx-like in the manner in which she strung victories together in autumn but Mystic Journey’s Cox Plate campaign will not be compromised in order to prolong her winning sequence.
“We’re definitely not scared of defeat,” trainer Adam Trinder said from Flemington on Friday morning prior to her return to racing in Saturday’s Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield.
Once Winx’s ultimately record-breaking winning run was under way, her trainer Chris Waller had the extra pressure of ensuring she was ready to win every race she contested, but Mystic Journey’s camp is under no such burden to achieve perfection according to Trinder.
“We have an objective that we’d like to be able to obtain and that’s moving forward to a Cox Plate in October,” he said.
“If she runs top three, that’s good enough for me. We’d obviously like to protect her record, but we’re not scared of defeat.”
On Thursday Mystic Journey arrived in Melbourne from Tasmania, by boat as always and Trinder was pleased to report there were no hiccups along the way.
“I thought, first travel for the season with a little bit of nervous energy, potentially she may not have settled in as well as she has in the past but as we stand here in the morning, she’s settled in really well,” Trinder said.
“I definitely think she’s come back at least the same level as what she left the autumn.
“I wouldn’t dare suggest she’s improved but her trials have probably been better than they have in the past. She’s run good time so she’s definitely in pretty good order I trust.”
Trinder said he had plenty of reason to expect Mystic Journey can improve again into her four-year-old season after returning stronger from a spell.
“Just the way she’s developed on the back of a spell as a four-year-old mare, I feel she’s physically stronger,” he said.
“The team at Tony McEvoy’s, who obviously haven’t seen her since March, as soon as she walked in this morning, their comment was ‘Wow, gee she’s strengthened out since she was last here’.”
Trinder said he stood by his decision not to run the mare in the Bletchingly Stakes late last month due to wet conditions.
“We did have plans to kick off in the Bletchingly a fortnight ago over 1200 metres, but obviously we bypassed that assignment, so she goes to 1400 metres first-up for the first occasion,” he said.
“She’s had two trials and plenty of base and foundation instilled in her at home so, moving forward into this preparation where we would like to end up at 2000 metres, I think a 1400-metre kick-off point should work out quite well.”
Trinder said Mystic Journey’s barrier two of 11 runners did not concern him.
“I think she’d be away on the rails with half (the field) in front of her and half behind her, just getting an opportunity to relax and build,” he said.
“We’ve seen her be wide in her races and be so dominant, which has probably been more of a momentum thing, but she is actually unbeaten from inside barriers.
“The inside barrier is no knock. I’d rather see her back away resting on the inside as opposed to having hard runs.”
The Lawrence Stakes looms as a pivotal race for the Cox Plate favourite as her performance and recovery will dictate how many lead-in runs she has.
“We’ll see off the back of the race tomorrow (Saturday) as to whether we’ll need to run again in the Memsie in a fortnight’s time,” Trinder said.
Asked what he’d like to see from Mystic Journey on Saturday for there to be no need to run in the Memsie, Trinder replied: “Nice and full about herself in running and her recovery.
“There’s nothing like race-day pressure to see if there are any chinks in her fitness so if she goes there and pulls up as we’d expect and think that she would, she will most likely not run in the Memsie.
“But if I feel that she needs another exposure and have four runs leading into the Cox Plate, I will.”
If she was to be beaten on Saturday, Trinder has already identified the horse he would prefer to be the one to end her winning run.
“He’s a horse that I admire from afar,” Trinder said of the Godolphin horse Hartnell, who won the 2017 Lawrence Stakes first-up.
“I think he’s a champion. He’s just a beautiful horse, who has done it in different countries and over different journeys,” he said. “He’s got a really good record over 1400 metres at Caulfield so he’s the benchmark horse for the race.”