Mystic Journey set for WFA Lawrence return
After delaying Mystic Journey's return because of a rain-affected track on Bletchingly Stakes day, trainer Adam Trinder faces the potential of his star mare beginning her Cox Plate campaign on similar ground in the PB Lawrence Stakes.
Trinder has committed to running the Australian Guineas and All-Star Mile winner in Saturday's Group Two Lawrence (1400m) at Caulfield but the Tasmanian-based trainer hopes the surface improves from its soft (6) rating on Wednesday.
"The ground potentially looks the same at the moment (as Bletchingly day) but I'd be hopeful with the forecast over the next 48 hours the track gets its opportunity to come up to at least a (soft) five," Trinder said.
"She's at a stage now where she needs to get her preparation started moving forward into the spring.
"She's fine on soft ground, she just doesn't act as well on it so soft ground would negate her chances of being able to win the race but she would still run really well."
Mystic Journey has won her past six starts and emerged as a star during her previous campaign with her victories in the Group One Australian Guineas and $5 million All-Star Mile at Flemington in March.
The four-year-old is the equal Cox Plate favourite and Trinder said she was in really good order for her highly anticipated return.
"I wouldn't dare say she'd improved but I am confident she's come back in the same form as what she left the autumn in," he said.
Mystic Journey is an early $1.90 favourite for Saturday's race against 10 rivals which include grand campaigner Hartnell who won the Lawrence in 2017 and was second last year.
Trinder said bookmakers might be "protecting themselves too much" with Mystic Journey's quote.
"Especially in a field of this class and calibre," he said.
"I think there's four or five individual Group One winners in the event. Obviously Hartnell, I love him from afar and have got nothing but respect for him.
"We were fortunate enough to be able to beat him in the All-Star Mile but we're not going to underestimate him in any regard.
"It's a fantastic race. It will be a really genuine race and I think moving forward to where we'd like to end up, as long as she's hitting the line and running well will be good enough for me.
"Obviously I'll be disappointed if she was outside the top four."