Wet track brings out the smile for John Thompson

Sydney trainer John Thompson cannot wipe the smile from his face as he launches a two-pronged attack with Maurus and Astronomos in the Group 1 Doomben Cup on Saturday.

A forecast for rain on top of a soft track rating has Thompson beaming about the pair’s prospects in the 2000-metre weight-for-age feature.

Both stayers were trained by David Vandyke last winter with Maurus finishing a creditable fifth in last year’s Doomben Cup before claiming the Listed Ipswich Cup.

Astronomos bypassed the Doomben Cup last year to run in the Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2400m) at Eagle Farm where he finished a creditable seventh to Benzini.

Maurus was transferred from Vandyke to Rob Smerdon in Victoria following his Caloundra Cup defeat last July but went winless in four starts before joining Thompson’s Randwick stables.

Thompson believes Maurus is still on the way up after finishing third to It’s Somewhat at only his second start for the stable in the Group 2 Hollindale Cup (1800m) at the Gold Coast on May 6.

Astronomos earned his Doomben Cup chance after displaying solid autumn form in Sydney which included a last start fourth to Top Of My List in the Listed Lord Mayor’s Cup (2000m) at Rosehill earlier this month.

“Maurus is just coming right at his third run in,” Thompson said.

“He just peaked on his run over the final stages on a leader biased track in the Hollindale Stakes.

“A soft track third run in will be in his favour and the only worry is his barrier 16.

“He can handle wet or dry tracks and if rain comes then we’ll be hoping the track plays to the outside.”

Thompson pointed to Astronomos’ wet track record of four wins from seven starts in the heavy to underline the six-year-old’s chances.

“He’s an honest horse who has had a few problems but wet tracks certainly help him,” he said.

“The prospect of a bog track certainly improves his chances.”

Maurus is lucky to be racing after cheating death to run in the Group 1 The Metropolitan at Randwick in 2015.

After winning the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes that year, Maurus was struck down with a serious bout of colic and was rushed to the Randwick equine centre for emergency treatment.

After a miraculous recovery, Maurus showed his toughness to run in the Group 1 The Metropolitan at Randwick just three weeks later.