Stephen Baster is yet to ride Cabeza De Vaca in a race but is convinced the gelding only has to replicate his previous first-up performance behind champion Winx to give the Chester Manifold Stakes a shake.
The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Cabeza De Vaca will have his first start since September and his first in Melbourne in Saturday’s Listed 1400m race at Flemington.
“Obviously his Winx Stakes form is good enough for a race like this,” Baster said.
The seven-year-old was fifth in the Group One weight-for-age Winx Stakes (1400m) at Randwick in August, finishing just under 3-1/2 lengths behind Winx and close to Group One winners D’Argento and Kementari.
And while the winner of seven of his 20 starts is yet to register a stakes victory, he is a dual city open handicap winner over 1400m and went close to winning the 2017 Group Two Villiers Stakes at Randwick over 1600m.
Cabeza De Vaca has had time to settle in to Waterhouse and Bott’s Flemington stable since his most recent Sydney barrier trial three weeks ago and Baster has had the chance to ride the gelding in training in the past couple of weeks.
“He has adapted to the Melbourne way of going OK but I’m glad the race is at Flemington,” Baster said.
“I’ve got the feeling that he’s going to be on the pace and tough. He’s just a big long-striding horse so that’s why I think the nice big track at Flemington will suit him.
“He’s not an outstanding worker but he has done his work professionally and each time I have ridden him the Melbourne way of going he has improved, so I’m looking forward to getting on him.”
Last-start Listed Christmas Stakes runner-up Manolo Blahniq heads the Chester Manifold Stakes market at $5 ahead of last-start Flemington winner Mr Money Bags ($6) and Cabeza De Vaca ($7).