By Ray Hickson
Japanese trainer Yoshinori Muto arrived in Sydney to inclement weather and he says he’d be happy for the rain to stick around come Sydney Cup day for his stayer Prestwick.
The 51-year-old trainer has never won a Group 1 race in his 15 years as a trainer but believes Prestwick comes to Sydney in the right circumstances for him to be a trailblazer for Japanese stayers.
Prestwick will be the first Japanese stayer to contest the Group 1 $2m Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick on April 14 and Muto is excited at the prospect of the seven-year-old facing a forgiving surface.
“He loves a heavy track and the clockwise racing so it is very suitable for him,’’ Muto said.
“Usually the tracks are very firm and very fast in Japan but he actually loves a heavy track.
“I’ve never won a Grade 1 race in Japan so this is a challenge and if we can win one here it will do great things for my career.’’
The grey made his first appearance in Sydney on Wednesday along with fellow Japanese import Danon Liberty, who will join the Darren Weir stable.
Prestwick, $11 with TAB in the Sydney Cup, walked a couple of laps of the Canterbury course proper, breaking into a canter on one occasion, then walked a lap of the polytrack.
Muto, who was a jockey for 15 years before becoming a trainer, said Prestwick coped with the travel well as he’s a seasoned traveller back at home and he will start some serious fast work in just over a week.
“Getting off the truck the horse was very happy and settled down like he was home,’’ he said.
“He is used to travelling a lot in Japan so he is fine with travel.’’
Prestwick has had 35 starts for six wins, the latest over 2600m at Sapporo in September, and has done battle with 2015 Melbourne Cup raider Fame Game at his last two starts.
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He ran third in a 3600m Group 2 event in December and his last run was a fifth behind Fame Game in the Group 3 Diamond Stakes (3400m) at Tokyo.
“In the last race the leading horse went too quick for him, the last race was not ideal for him,’’ Muto said.
As for who will ride Prestwick in the Sydney Cup, Muto said Hong Kong champion Joao Moreira is the first choice.
Japanese horses have raced in Sydney with success in the past with Hana's Goal winning the 2014 All Aged, Real Impact won the 2015 George Ryder and was runner-up in the Doncaster while To The World ran second in the 2015 Tancred Stakes.
Danon Liberty, meanwhile, is likely to contest the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) on the final day of the Sydney Carnival on April 21 after a setback prior to leaving put paid to Doncaster plans.
Completing the international contingent for The Championships is Irish galloper Success Days who is due to arrive at Canterbury on Saturday to contest the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on April 14.