Legendary jockeys Malcolm Johnston and Ron Quinton are Pierro fans and have total confidence that the unbeaten colt will have no trouble getting around the tricky Caulfield track tomorrow.
The Gai Waterhouse trained Pierro will be sent out the shortest priced favourite in history in the Group 1 $1m BECK Caulfield Guineas(1600m) with bookmakers offering around $1.20 for the super colt.
Johnston learned of the treachery of the Caulfield track in 1979 when champion Kingston Town arrived from Sydney with the Spring three year old Triple Crown under his belt but could only struggle into third place after failing to handle the track.
“The black horse had beaten Mighty Kingdom by five lengths in the Spring Champion Stakes and, in my mind, it was just a matter of going around in the Guineas,” Johnston said.
“But Caulfield is a quirky track and he got on the wrong leg at the start and just couldn’t switch on to his right leg.”
“Caulfield doesn’t give you many opportunities to get back on to the right leg and he didn’t get around the track at all.”
“He never stopped trying but I remember he came up the straight like a crab. We finished about five lengths back in third.”
But Johnston can’t see any reason why Pierro would not get around Caulfield after taking all before him to date.
“Pierro is the ultimate professional,” Johnston said.
“He will get around Caulfield without a drama because he seems to handle everything that is thrown at him.”
“I don’t label horses champions very often but if he wins the Caulfield Guineas and the Cox Plate, he deserves to be called a champion.”
“He will win the Guineas, I have no doubt, then the big test will come in the Cox Plate.”
Quinton also felt the wraith of Caulfield with super colt Sir Dapper when the pair arrived in Melbourne in 1983, but didn’t totally blame the track for Golden Slipper winner’s defeat.
“Sir Dapper had a long campaign in Sydney, which started with the San Domenico Stakes over 1000m, and he won five races through to the Spring Champion Stakes, which was run that year over 2100m at Warwick Farm,” Quinton said.
“I think the Caulfield Guineas was a bit of an after-thought because he had to switch back to 1600m. He still ran well, but Beechcraft was just too good on the day.”
Waterhouse’s confidence slipped up a notch after watching Pierro complete a winning gallop on the Flemington course proper on Tuesday morning, clocking a sensational 21.35s for the final 400m of his 1200m gallop.
“It was certainly what I was looking for,” Waterhouse said.
“He wasn’t urged, he was never touched, the horse just did it all and literally attacked the line.”
“It gave me goose bumps, he just took my breath away, That’s how good he was.”
The Lonhro colt kicked off his Spring campaign with a win in the Group 3 $125,000 The Run To The Rose (1200m) at Rosehill on September 1 before heading to Melbourne and kept his unbeaten record intact in the Group 2 $220,000 City Jeep Bill Stutt Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 28.
Pierro is currently the $1.23 favourite for the Caulfield Guineas with the Peter Snowden trained Epaulette at $9 in front of Team Hawkes’ colt All Too Hard at $14.
A win in the Guineas will see Pierro hold his spot at the top of market for the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 27.
Pierro is the $2.10 Cox Plate favourite with stablemate More Joyous on the third line of betting at $7 with Group 1 winning Kiwi galloper Ocean Park splitting the Waterhouse pair at $6.50.