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Mertens guides Stampede towards Cup start

After a slow start to the season apprentice Beau Mertens is getting into gear just as the spring carnival heats up.

Last season's leading apprentice, Mertens was locked in a jockeys' premiership battle with Craig Williams before losing out over the concluding meetings.

He then took a well-earned break before being struck by a suspension soon after his return.

However recent weeks have been kind and he now has nine winners for the season.

More importantly he has six rides at Caulfield on Saturday.

One of those is the $4.60 favourite Stampede in the MRC Foundation Cup (2000m) in which the winner gains ballot exemption into next month's Caulfield Cup.

Mertens rode the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained galloper to win first-up over 1600m at Moonee Valley on September 9.

"He's pulled up terrific from his first-up run," Mertens said.

"I've been in there working him since his win and he's been impressing me in his work.

"I'm very confident going into the race."

Mertens expects the rise to 2000m on Saturday to be ideal.

He says he has a lot of confidence riding horses for Waterhouse and Bott knowing they go into their races fit.

And there is the added benefit that their horses like to race on the speed, as Stampede has shown in his six wins from 10 starts.

"It reduces the bad luck situations in a race," he said.

"When you're told to put them in a rhythm and let them be happy wherever they are it makes our job a lot easier and takes the pressure off.

"That's probably one of the best things about riding for Gai and Adrian, their instructions are easy."

Mertens has also picked up the ride on $5 co-favourite Fuhryk in the Group Three Ladbrokes Odds Boost Handicap.

Fuhryk, a winner over Saturday's course and distance in February, was unlucky first-up at the track on September 2 when ridden by Williams.

With Williams and Lindsay Park stable rider Regan Bayliss suspended, Mertens said he' was the fortunate one to pick up the ride.

"She's an impressive horse going forward," Mertens said.