Gabella gets shot at Cup qualifier

The lure of a Caulfield Cup berth has prompted connections of Gabella to give the mare her shot in the Naturalism Stakes.

The former French mare’s only Australian win from six starts was a Listed victory over 2015m in Adelaide in May.

She will be having her third start this preparation when she runs in Saturday’s Group Three Naturalism Stakes, now known as the MRC Foundation Cup, at Caulfield, seven days after her fast-finishing fourth over 1700m at Flemington.

Gabella joins Geelong Cup-winning stablemate and Cups hope Almoonqith in the race.

She will have to overcome the outside barrier if she’s to earn a Caulfield Cup ticket, while Almoonqith didn’t fare much better.

“Gabella’s last couple of starts she’s found herself getting into an awkward spot, so to try to take a positive out of an ordinary draw I think if she can get into a flowing position it might suit her,” co-trainer Tom Dabernig said.

“She’s very fit, she’s got a light weight and a senior jockey goes on board. And if she happens to fluke winning, it’s a qualifier for the Caulfield Cup.”

Dabernig said it was hard to predict where Gabella might end up in the run from the barrier but said getting in the three-wide line with some cover could suit.

“We think she’s potentially gone to another level and she seems to be in form,” he said.

“She’s fully mature and I just don’t think we’ve got to the bottom of her.

“She might get a tough run from out there and it could be awkward, but you might get a nice run where she’s three-wide with cover and rolling. With no weight on her back, she might surprise.”

Dabernig said the seven-year-old won well when stepped up in distance to win the Listed race in Adelaide and he felt she probably should have finished closer last week.

Gabella is at $13 while Almoonqith is at $17.

Dabernig said Almoonqith was in great order and progressing well on his path towards the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.

But he also believes the wide draw and an unsuitable soft track are against him over 2000m second-up.

“I’m a bit cautious on a soft track and his best runs are when he’s forward in a race. I think from that gate, we’re probably going to have to go back a bit,” he said.

But Dabernig expects whatever the classy stayer does on Saturday will bring him on for his main targets later in the spring over further distances.

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