Premier European trainer Luca Cumani is gearing up for another Melbourne Cup bid after his tenacious six-year-old Drunken Sailor showed a good return to form winning at Newbury on the weekend.
Tendulkar gelding Drunken Sailor was targeting last year’s $6 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington, but after running a disappointing 11th beaten seven lengths by eventual Melbourne Cup winner Americain in the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2406m) in October, missed out on a start in the world’s richest handicap.
At their last run on Aussie shores, Drunken Sailor was 10th to Moudre in the Group 3 Queen’s Cup (2600m) before returning home.
After a number of credible runs this year, Drunken Sailor finally entered the winner’s stall for the first time since August last year with a convincing victory in Listed Aston Park Stakes on Saturday.
Cumani boasts a high-profile stable of runners and has won a multitude of elite level races around the world, but to date the Melbourne Cup has eluded the Italian-born horseman.
In last year’s Melbourne Cup, Cumani started Manighar who finished seventh and along with Drunken Sailor, also had to abandon Melbourne Cup aspirations with veteran grey Bauer who was scratched from the race.
Bauer gave Cumani his closest Melbourne Cup finish to date when second to the Bart Cummings-trained Viewed back in 2008.
Cumani’s son and assistant trainer Matt hinted at possible plans to give Drunken Sailor another chance at Melbourne Cup glory this Spring Carnival.
“The key to him is a strong pace and not to get in front too soon,” Matt Cumani said.
“I don’t know what the target will be, but you wouldn’t want to step him up further than this (2800m) at the moment.
“One of the owners wants to go back to Australia for the Melbourne Cup so we’ll have to see.”