Rosehill Guineas winner Mo’unga has returned a different beast for the spring, but jockey Tommy Berry knows the true test of the four-year-old will come in the Winx Stakes at Randwick on Saturday.
The son of Savabeel has always promised to furnish into a stronger horse with time and hasn’t disappointed. It’s the steps forward in attitude and maturity that have impressed Berry the most, which he felt firsthand in a special gallop at Randwick last Friday.
“Mo’unga has to make that weight-for-age improvement this preparation, which is tough for four-year-olds, and we find out a lot about him on the weekend,” Berry said. “I’ve felt his work and his trials have been a little bit sharper than we have been used too. He is a bit different now.
“I was really surprised watching his trial that he had done it on the bit. He is usually under the bat a bit more and has to be made to do it.
“In his work [last Friday] it was the same sort of thing. At three-quarter pace you are usually niggling him along. But he travelled so well for me the other day that, when I asked him to improve, I barely had to ask him – he just did it.
“That is a big improvement from last preparation, and he has obviously improved physically and mentally.”
Mo’unga took on all comers at the end of the autumn when finishing in the pack in the Doncaster and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes before a spell. That was at the end of a long campaign where he had achieved his group 1 goal against his age group in the Rosehill Guineas.
His potential has him at the top of early betting for the Epsom and the Golden Eagle, but the early weight-for-age program will decide what races he targets.
He is one of the newcomers to weight-for-age ranks this season, along with two-time group 1 winner Hungry Heart and She’s Ideel, and is rated a $7.50 chance for the first group 1 of the season.