Veteran stayer Hume is being prepared for an ambitious 2011 Melbourne Cup crusade this spring, their Eagle Farm-based trainer Brian Smith undeterred by the eight-year-olds’ age or the odds against them to go all the way in the world’s richest handicap.
Zabeel gelding Hume only made a return to racing during the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival in June having been sidelined for 18 months due to a nasty tendon injury.
During the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival of 2009 Hume showed excellent potential with their eye-catching second place finish behind subsequent Melbourne Cup winner Shocking in the Group 3 The Lexus Stakes (2500m).
Smith had his eye on the Melbourne Cup prize that year, but even with a third in the Lexus Hume didn’t qualify for Flemington’s famous two-mile feature.
“We paid $44,000 for a late nom for the Melbourne Cup but he still didn’t make the field when he was beaten by Shocking in the Lexus,” Smith said.
Missing out on the Cup that year, Hume had a final run on Emirate Stakes Day when fifth to Sterling Prince in the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2500m), after which they suffered their season-ending injury.
“I’m lucky that I’ve been allowed to use the good training facilities at Eagle Farm with him as well as giving him plenty of time to get over the injury,” Smith said.
“He’s been in work for nearly a year getting the leg right.
“I had him in work for a solid month and sent him to Yandina Lodge near Caloundra to exercise on a water-walker for another month as part of his rehabilitation.”
Returning at Eagle Farm this year, Hume has had four runs but has failed to finish better than third.
Last start they ran seventh, beaten a credible three and a half lengths by the Robert Heathcote-trained Work The Room, in the Listed Tattersall’s Mile (1600m) on July 23.
“He ran a good race last start and he’s trained on well,” Smith said.
Hume will step out again on Saturday in the $50,000 Next Byte Open Handicap (1630m) at Doomben, the warhorse facing a tough field including Tattersall’s Racing Club Mile winner Frozone and the Kelso Wood-trained Elusive Port.
Drawn in barrier nine of 12 and due to be ridden by apprentice jockey Ashley Butler, Smith is realistic over Hume’s chances at Doomben this weekend and believes he will build himself up as the season progresses.
“He’s not ready for a 2000-metre race yet but he’ll still be very competitive over the mile,” Smith said.
Following Saturday’s first-up run Smith has scheduled a tentative path to the Melbourne Cup 2011 that includes the $185,000 Group 3 Newcastle Cup (2300m) on September 15 and the $400,000 Group 1 The Metropolitan Handicap (2400m) at Randwick on October 1.
“He could have another run here before he goes away or he might have to run in Sydney first before he starts in the Newcastle Cup,” Smith said.
In the current Doomben Race 7 betting odds for Saturday at Luxbet, Hume is rated a $6 chance in an open market that features four other single-figure contenders.
Not wanting to be slapped with a hefty late nomination fee as was the case two years ago, Smith will enter Hume in the 2011 Melbourne Cup nominations when they are taken on September 1.
“He’ll be nominated for the Melbourne Cup and if he goes there he’ll probably only have time for one lead-up run in Melbourne,” Smith said.
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