Cumani’s best hope to win Melbourne Cup emerges
- BY:BRENDAN CORMICK
- From:The Australian
- August 20, 2012 12:00AM
THE entries aren’t completed for another fortnight but the Melbourne Cup is the hot topic on both sides of the Atlantic after two respected European trainers signalled their commitment to be at Flemington with a horse capable of winning the $6.2 million race.
TAB Sportsbet elevated Mount Athos to favouritism at $17 after he guaranteed his passage from England by winning the Group III Geoffrey Freer Stakes (2600m) at Newbury on Saturday. Bookmakers in the UK wound him into $11 after his 3 1/4-length victory that satisfied all qualifying criteria for the Cup on November 6.
“He’s as good a chance as I’ve ever had,” said trainer Luca Cumani, who has twice had to settle for close seconds in the Cup. Yesterday at Chicago’s Arlington Park, another trainer from England, Marco Botti, prepared Jakkalberry to win the inaugural American St Leger (2700m) on turf.
Ridden by Irish jockey Colm O’Donoghue, who has previously had a successful summer stint with the Freedman stable in Victoria, Jakkalberry won by 2 1/4 lengths. The six-year-old will be flown home to enter quarantine.
Jakkalberry, raced by Australian interests, will arrive in Melbourne at the end of next month to prepare for the $2.65 million Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 20.
“He won with a bit in hand and we’re pleased with him,” syndicator Darren Dance said.
Jakkalberry has repaid his Australian owners, who bought into the entire before he finished third in the Group I Sheema Classic (2400m) at Dubai’s Meydan racecourse in March. The American St Leger was his first win for 12 months.
Stablemate Crackerjack King ran fifth, on the heels of the dead-heaters for third, Colombian and Rahystrada, in the Arlington Million won by Little Mike from Cumani’s Cox Plate entry Afsare.
Dance, whose Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock syndicate has a half-share in Crackerjack King, said plans to take him to Melbourne for Moonee Valley’s weight-for-age crown, would be set aside. The young rising star is expected to be spelled and aimed at the Dubai carnival early next year.
It is unlikely Mount Athos will follow other Cumani-trained visitors Mad Rush and Manighar and tackle the Caulfield Cup en route to the Melbourne Cup.
Brisbane Cup winner and Doomben Cup runner-up Lights Of Heaven will gallop in Sydney this morning and, if she goes well, will be nominated for the $175,000 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm on Saturday.
Rock ‘N’ Pop, runner-up in the NZ Derby, will be among entries for the Warwick Stakes.
Now trained by Gai Waterhouse, the four-year-old has won two barrier trials at Randwick before his return to racing.