New Zealand-bred gelding Young Werther will be looking to score just his second career win on Saturday in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).
The son of Tavistock won on debut over 1500m at Geelong last September and has since posted six placings from nine starts, including the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) and Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m).
While pleased with his classic season, trainer Danny O’Brien said he has really come of age as a four-year-old, highlighted by his runner-up effort behind Incentivise in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) earlier this month.
“He was quite immature as a three-year-old, albeit we ran him in the Victoria Derby and Australian Derby, he didn’t race a hell of a lot heading into those races,” O’Brien told SENTrack.
“We were hoping he would develop into a bit stronger model as a four-year-old and it appears he has.
“It’s a reasonably big step up from those Derby races into a Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup.
“We were happy with his performance in the Turnbull and he seems to have improved out of it.
“He worked strongly on Tuesday morning at Flemington on the course proper.
“He seems to have come up in good shape, but he still needs to take another step up on Saturday.”
With the Caulfield track rated a Soft6 on Thursday morning and rain forecast ahead of the weekend, O’Brien is hoping the track doesn’t come up Heavy.
“He ran well in the Australian Derby on a soft track,” he said. “The only concern would be whether it would be really wet, a Heavy9 or 10 would be unchartered territory for him, but anything dryer than that and I think he will be okay.”
Bookmakers have installed Young Werther as a +900 equal third favourite for the Caulfield Cup alongside compatriot The Chosen One, in a market headed by Turnbull winner Incentivise at +140.
Young Werther was purchased out of Cambridge Stud’s 2019 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 Yearling Sale draft by O’Brien, in partnership with Aquis Farm, for NZD$140,000.
O’Brien is also looking forward to lining up stablemate and fellow Kiwi-bred Kapalua Sunset in the Group 3 Ethereal Stakes (2000m).
The three-year-old daughter of Tavistock has had just the two career starts, placing on debut before winning over 1875m at Kyneton last month.
“She is a lightly-raced filly, she has been to the races twice and she has got natural improvement to come from what was an excellent win at Kyneton,” O’Brien said.
“She goes into a 2000m three-year-old fillies race, which is perfect for her at this stage of her career.
“Hopefully she can be in the finish there on Saturday.”