A 10-day break following the spring carnival has made an enormous difference to talented sprinter Murt The Flirt.
The Brendan McCarthy-trained gelding is set to run in the Listed Christmas Stakes at Caulfield on Monday before embarking on his third trip to the rich Magic Millions race day on January 14 on the Gold Coast.
Murt The Flirt was successful over 1400m at Caulfield on October 12 before running eighth in the all greys race at Flemington during Melbourne Cup week.
After that performance McCarthy gave the five-year-old a 10-day break which he said had a big impact.
“I’m happier with him now than I was in the spring, even when he won at Caulfield,” McCarthy said.
“This looks a nice stepping stone for the Magic Millions and if he’s come back as well as he seems, I think he’ll run well.
“He’s been racing in restricted races and is rising to an open handicap which is a bit of a step but at this time of the year he should be able to do it.”
Murt The Flirt’s first trip to the Magic Millions meeting resulted in fifth place in the 2015 Guineas over 1400m while earlier this year he ran fourth to Lucky Hussler in the Cup, again over 1400m.
This time round McCarthy is favouring the Magic Millions Sprint over 1200m although he’s keeping his options open regarding the Cup.
“The 1400 looks like it’s going to be stronger than the 1200 race so we’ll probably stick to the 1200 at this stage,” McCarthy said.
Murt The Flirt will tune up for Monday’s Christmas Stakes with a gallop on the Caulfield course proper on Thursday morning.
McCarthy said he had the five-year-old entered for the jump-outs at Caulfield on Tuesday morning but elected to give the gelding an easy gallop instead.
Regular rider Chris Symons will again have the mount on Monday.