Ipswich Cup winner Maurus has only been in trainer Robert Smerdon’s care for a short time, but he has made an immediate impression.
The six-year-old gelding, formerly trained by David Vandyke, makes his debut for the Smerdon stable in Saturday’s Catanach’s Jewellers Handicap over an unsuitable 1400m at Caulfield.
It will be his first start since being beaten as odds-on favourite in the Caloundra Cup (2400m) in early July.
Smerdon said the gelding had a few weeks off after his Queensland campaign and started building up for his spring preparation at his owner Paul Fudge’s property before heading down to the trainer’s Caulfield stable.
“What we’ve seen of him, it’s not hard to be impressed,” Smerdon said.
“He’s a very good-winded horse. When he does a bit of work he pulls up like it’s no effort to him. I’m looking forward to taking him to the races on Saturday and seeing what he can do.
“He won the Ipswich Cup in a canter. He put a big gap on them.
“He’s failed twice at 2400 metres but he’s got a good record around 2000 metres and a bit beyond 2000.
“He’s resuming and we’re still learning about him. He’d have some residual fitness but I would have thought he would need further than the 1400 metres.”
Maurus is nominated for spring features, including the Caulfield Cup, but whether he can run a strong 2400m remains a query having been beaten twice over the distance in The Metropolitan and the Caloundra Cup.
“It is a bit of a worry,” Smerdon said.
“He was so strong at the end of 2150 metres in the Ipswich Cup, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t run another furlong (200m).
“We’ll just play it by ear. We haven’t set any specific aims for him just yet.”