PAUL Perry long expected The Mission to be his best chance of claiming a first Caulfield Guineas, and he’s not losing faith in the group 1 winner despite the rise of stablemate Perast for the $2 million race on Saturday.
The master Newcastle trainer will start The Mission from gate 11 and Perast from two in the 1600-metre feature for three-year-olds, with Beau Mertens and Ben Melham taking the respective rides.
The Guineas has been the target for The Mission this preparation but the Choisir colt has failed in three runs to recapture the form that took him to victory in the group 3 TL Baillieu Handicap and group 1 Champagne Stakes in the autumn.
In that time, Perast has led the way for Perry, winning the group 3 Guineas Prelude two weeks ago at his fifth start this preparation, which included a third in the group 2 Run To The Rose. The Snitzel colt was a $10 Guineas chance with TAB Fixed Odds, while The Mission was $34.
Perry expected Perast to challenge but it was clear he had a soft spot for The Mission, which delivered him a 12th group 1 training success and first since 2008 this year.
“He won well the other day. It was a good win, and a similar race,” Perry said of Perast. “But the other horse has always been set for this race and he’s improved, so I hope for a better showing from him.
“He takes a while and he’s had a couple of runs back in big races. It’s hard kicking off in group 1s and he’d had a good spell. He always takes a few runs and I didn’t expect much of him up until now.
“He’s trained on well and he looked really good here in a jump-out last Friday and at Caulfield on Tuesday he galloped and he looked great. He’ll run a race, I reckon.”
Perry expected Perast to get a “glorious run” from gate two but he was also happy with The Mission’s wide barrier in the 16-horse field.
“I reckon he’s drawn beautifully because he’s not a great barrier horse and at least out there it gives him a chance,” he said. “If he was drawn in close and they crossed him quick, he’d been in trouble. This gives him a chance to get into a bit of motion.”
Perry was second in the Caulfield Guineas with Excites in 2006 and third with Choisir in 2002.
“It’s a really hard race to win and it’s probably ‘the’ race for three-year-olds,” he said.
“I thought The Mission would [make it] but the other one had to step up, and he has.
“His runs have been good all the way through. He’s had a bit of a chequered path into it, but his runs have been good.”
The Mission and Perast set a frightening pace in the group 1 Golden Rose last month to ruin both of their chances. Many expect The Mission to lead again.
“He doesn’t have to lead but if he does, it won’t worry him,” Perry said.
“They’ve both got great jockeys on them so they should know what they are about.
“There will be a hot speed anyway, there’s a lot of speed in the race. It’s a hard race and a really well put-together field.”
As for the main threats, Perry said: “I don’t know what happened to Royal Symphony the other day.
“He was really short odds and didn’t get there, but I thought Catchy’s run the other day was real good and Kementari, it ran really well.
“It’s a really hard race with plenty of chances.”