Stephanie Thornton will ride Belwazi when she returns to Moonee Valley for trainer Jerome Hunter.
Moonee Valley has been a happy hunting ground for trainer Jerome Hunter this season and he is looking for it to continue when racing returns there for the first time in more than two months.
Hunter has had four winners and two placings from just seven Moonee Valley starters in 2017/18 and won three of the 955m races during the night racing season.
“I think it’s just the type of horses I’ve got at the moment,” Hunter said.
“I’ve got a lot of sprinters and it just worked out well over the summer.
“I’ve been unlucky recently, I’ve had so many seconds in the last couple of months and it’s been a bit frustrating.
“Hopefully we turn the corner on Saturday and hopefully Moonee Valley will be our track to do it.”
Hunter has had six second placegetters from his past 20 starters since Our Gladiator won at Moonee Valley on March 16.
Our Gladiator and stablemate Belwazi have both won at Moonee Valley and clash in Saturday’s Dominant MVRC Partnership Handicap (1000m) with Belwazi at $10 and Our Gladiator $61.
Belwazi resumes from a spell and Hunter considers her the leading chance of the pair but will not be surprised if Our Gladiator figures in the top three.
“Belwazi is coming along really well. She’s had two trials and the second one was really good,” he said.
“We’ve just kept her bouncing around and she does go really well fresh.”
Hunter says he can’t fault Belwazi heading into this campaign.
“Belwazi I think is the better horse of the two but Our Gladiator is better than what she has shown in her past few starts,” he said.
Apprentice Stephanie Thornton has ridden all the Hunter-trained Moonee Valley winners this season and continues her association with Belwazi.
“She loves the horse and is looking forward to the horse coming back,” Hunter said.
Hunter said he felt a bit sorry for Our Gladiator, believing the mare has had excuses in her past three unplaced runs.
“Her first three starts this preparation were enormous,” he said.
“She won at Pakenham and Moonee Valley and then just got caught on the line at Caulfield.
“After that she has hit two rain-affected tracks and in the other she didn’t like Flemington.
“I would say she’s going as good as ever, she’s just had excuses the last few starts.”