Grahame Begg has had his eye on the Australian Cup as a target for Nonconformist for weeks but the four-year-old has a great chance to notch a win in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes at Caulfield on his way to his Group 1 assignment at Flemington.
The Group 1 Australian Cup is trainer Grahame Begg’s goal with Nonconformist but claiming the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) on the way wouldn’t go astray.
Begg believes the position of the $5 million All-Star Mile a week after the Australian Cup could detract from the quality of the Flemington event, which made it the perfect assignment for Nonconformist.
Nonconformist has won four of his 14 starts, including the Group 2 Alister Clark Stakes as a three-year-old and the Group 3 Coongy Stakes earlier this season. But he takes on four Group 1 winners in the Peter Young Stakes.
Begg expects his charge to rise to the challenge at Caulfield where Nonconformist has won twice and placed another four times in seven runs on the track.
“The bar raised and he has to keep stepping up to it,” Begg said.
“Touch wood, we’ve had no issues with him, which is pleasing and he seems to be tracking very well.”
Nonconformist did his best work late when third behind the all-the-way winner Best Of Days when resuming in the Group 3 Carlyon Cup on February 6.
“We thought he ran very well first-up in an unsuitable race, the way it was run,” Begg said.
“He got back and worked well in a sit-and-sprint race, which didn’t suit.”
Begg said a study of recent Australian Cup history showed the Peter Young Stakes was the right lead-up race for the $1.5 million race on March 6.
Seven of the last 10 Australian Cup winners had their last lead-up run the Peter Young Stakes, which was previously known as the St George Stakes.
“The transition of races looks good for him. He ran in the mile race first-up and I’d have loved it to have been three weeks between runs but you can’t have everything,” Begg said.
“The history of the Australian Cup tells you the Peter Young looks the ideal lead-up race to it, particularly in recent years.”
Luke Currie will ride Nonconformist in the Peter Young Stakes, replacing the injured Jordan Childs.
Nonconformist is a $5.50 chance to give Begg a second consecutive win in the event after winning the race with Miss Siska last year before her surprise stable switch to Sydney trainer Matthew Smith.
Miss Siska is a $10 chance to complete back-to-back wins in the $200,000 race.