Mark Zahra has forgiven Palentino his Epsom Handicap flop and looks forward to getting him back to his favourite track.
Palentino has two Group One wins over 1600m at Flemington this year – the Australian Guineas in March and the weight-for-age Makybe Diva Stakes last month.
He will be out to add another in Saturday’s Cantala Stakes.
“That’s two big ticks – he loves Flemington and he loves the mile,” Zahra said.
But Palentino needs to bounce back from his Epsom failure when he finished last at Randwick on October 1 at his first Sydney start, racing in the clockwise direction and wearing blinkers which have now been removed.
“That flop doesn’t look good on his form card, but he’s a bit of a quirky horse and he tends to track inwards a bit going the Melbourne way,” Zahra said.
“So he was hanging out a little bit and he just got a spook on the corner and ran off.
“Back to Flemington on a big track, I’ve drawn well to get a really nice run. “If he can put the form forward from the Makybe Diva Stakes, it puts him right in the finish for sure, I reckon.”
Palentino is at $8 and is joint topweight on 57kg with $5.50 favourite The United States.
Zahra believes the Epsom third placegetter Mackintosh, fifth-placed Le Romain and sixth placed McCreery bring strong form to Melbourne.
“I think he’s got most of the Melbourne horses covered. I think the three that are coming down from the Epsom will be the horses to beat,” he said.
And he rates Caulfield Guineas runner-up Seaburge, who he has ridden throughout his career, as the interesting runner in the race with the three-year-old carrying 50kg for jockey Chad Schofield.
“I worked him on Monday. He’s looks amazing and he’ll run well,” Zahra said.