Price pondering which way to go with Grunt

3 min read

Written by Paul Vettise

A sterling performance from Grunt (NZ) (O’Reilly {NZ}) on Saturday to roll a hot Group 1 weight-for-age line-up at Flemington has Mick Price looking at all his options.

The Caulfield trainer has yet to decide which spring path he will follow with his star 4-year-old and the picture was no clearer after the PFD Food Services Makybe Diva S.

“He’s in everything. He can go three weeks into the Turnbull and then the Caulfield Cup or the Underwood, Caulfield S., and go to the Cox Plate,” he said. “I am a bit concerned how well he would get around Moonee Valley though.”

Flemington two-miler

Price also has one eye on the Melbourne Cup for the lightly-tried entire, Saturday’s outing just the eighth of last season’s G1 Australian Guineas winner’s career.

“He’s a beautiful staying horse and he’s got 54kg in the Melbourne Cup,” he said. “It didn’t hurt Rekindled so there’s that option as well.”

The Cup route is an attractive one, venue wise, as Grunt acts so well at Flemington where he has three wins and a placing from four visits. “It’s a beautiful big track and that’s him,” he said.

He was making the third start of his current preparation on Saturday after finishing fifth when resuming in the G2 Lawrence S., and eighth in the G1 Memsie S. “Around Caulfield they’re too sharp for him,” Price said.

“Around Caulfield they’re too sharp for him.” – Mick Price said.

Relaxed on the roomy track on his Flemington return, Grunt travelled comfortably in fifth spot under rider Damien Oliver before easing out near the turn and he took the race by the scruff of the neck 200 metres from home before forging clear.

Grunt winning the Group 1 PFD Food Services Makybe Diva Stakes

“Today was D-Day and he does enjoy the big, open spaces here,” Oliver said. “It was a truly run race and when I popped out he chimed in perfectly and you saw the real Grunt.”

“It was a truly run race and when I popped out he chimed in perfectly and you saw the real Grunt.” – Damien Oliver.

Darren Weir was more than happy with the performance of his Cups hope Kings Will Dream (IRE) (Casamento {IRE}, who got home strongly for second. “He was good and beaten by a better horse on the day,” he said.

The effort of Jon Snow (NZ) (Iffraaj {GB}) delight his trainer Murray Baker. “It was a terrific run, he’s not really a miler and he was second-up,” he said. “That was a very good field, all the stars were here, and he’ll be right when he gets to 2000 metres. He’ll go to the Underwood next.”

Kementari (Lonhro) enjoyed a good run, but couldn’t capitalise and finished fourth with an effort that left rider Craig Williams disappointed. “He was a little bit plain,” he said.

Pedigree Notes

Mick Price went to $220,000 to secure Grunt out of Trelawney Stud’s 2016 draft to Karaka and is out of the Van Nistelrooy (USA) mare Ruqqaya (NZ). All three of her foals to race have won and include the black type performer Addison NZ) (Jimmy Choux {NZ}).

Ruqqaya is a half-sister to the former New Zealand Horse of the Year and G1 Cox Plate winner Ocean Park (NZ) (Thorn Park). The G1 Easter H., winner Prince Kaapstad (NZ) (Kaapstad {NZ) and the G1 Otaki-Maori WFA S., winner Critic (NZ) (Centaine) also feature in the pedigree.

Grunt was a $220,000 NZB Karaka purchase