Trainer Robert Smerdon and Berisha’s group of owners have devised a plan for their assault on the Caulfield Cup.
A part of that plan unfolds at Caulfield on Saturday when Berisha runs in the Group Three Naturalism Stakes over 2000 metres.
The Naturalism winner gains an automatic start in next month’s Caulfield Cup, although that is not something Berisha’s connections have to worry about because he is already guaranteed a start courtesy of his win in the Mornington Cup in April.
As a result Smerdon has taken his time with Berisha this campaign with his sole focus having him spot-on for the 2400m handicap on October 15.
Berisha was spelled following his Mornington Cup win, resuming in the weight-for-age P B Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield on August 13.
He finished less than four lengths from the winner Miss Rose De Lago before running seventh in the Heatherlie Stakes on August 27.
“He’s assured of his spot in the Caulfield Cup so we don’t have to screw him down yet and we haven’t,” Smerdon said.
“He’s improving with each run and he’s improved out of the Heatherlie and he’s still got significant improvement to come.
“He’s ticking over well but there’s still a fair bit of upside still to be had after Saturday.”
After Saturday’s outing, the gelding heads to the JRA Cup at Moonee Valley on September 30 before the Caulfield Cup on October 15.
Chris Parnham takes the ride on Saturday.
Saturday’s race has attracted a field of 16 runners with four emergencies.
All runners, with the exception of Great Esteem, also an entrant in the George Main Stakes at Randwick on Saturday, are nominated for the Caulfield Cup.
Berisha is one of the outsiders at $35 in the Naturalism with the imported Tom Melbourne the $4.20 favourite in early markets.
Singapore based Glen Boss will partner Tom Melbourne for trainers Lee and Anthony Freedman on Saturday.
Boss rode Tom Melbourne to victories at Sandown, Flemington and the Albury Cup before the horse over-raced when a fading 10th in the Mornington Cup under Ben Melham.
Tom Melbourne is the only ride for Boss at Caulfield before he returns to Singapore where he has six rides at Kranji on Sunday.