Banner

Malaguerra was a dominant winner of the Group 2 Australian Stakes in equal track-record time at Moonee Valley on Friday night, further boosting the stunning city strike-rate of trainer Peter Gelagotis.

The Darley Classic winner returned with aplomb to post his first win at the Valley at only his second trip there, with Ben Melham continuing his great association with the two-time Group 1 winner to earn a two-length win over Black Heart Bart.

But to the winner went the spoils, and Gelagotis' Moe stable once again took honours in town - it was their eighth city winner from just 25 runners in the city this season at 32 per cent.

"We had some concerns pre-race but I just gave Benny the encouragement to execute his strategy," Manny Gelagotis, Peter's racing manager, said post-race.

"In our mind, he was clearly the best horse in the race. He's a multiple Group 1 sprinting winner.

"Moonee Valley can be tricky, but the horse showed a lot of class.

"I expected to see that - he trialled amazing back home.

"Benny said himself he's never seen a horse look better.

"The horse is in rare form, and is a serious horse."

And Gelagotis sounded a warning to rivals for the upcoming weight-for-age Group 1s, the Orr Stakes and Futurity Stakes, at Caulfield in February.

"We've been dying to challenge the horse at the seven furlongs," Gelagotis added.

"It's going to take an exciting horse to beat him in the Orr and Futurity.

"It's there to be seen.

"We saw him at Flemington in previous preparations, and he can run very quick time, and control speed. It's a good asset to have."

On their very first Group 1 winner, Mourinho (second-last), who returned from an 11-month spell due to a tendon injury and also a foot abscess, Gelagotis added: 

"He's got to sort of dust off the cobwebs.

"We're happy with him. He looks really good.

"At this point in time he'll kick on to the seven-furlong race at Caulfield [the Orr], and you probably won't see the best of him until the Peter Young, and that's where he'll start to peak."