Luca Cumani’s veteran grey Bauer broke a three-year winning drought on the weekend, the evergreen eight-year-old earning a likely trip down under for the 2011 Melbourne Cup despite facing the tough task of requalifying for the ‘race that stops a nation.’
Three years ago Halling gelding Bauer travelled to Victoria for the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, winning the Group 3 Geelong Cup on way to their devastatingly close second place finish in the 2008 Melbourne Cup when regulated into runner-up by a mere nose to the Bart Cummings-trained Viewed.
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The Geelong Cup victory in October of 2008 was the last time Bauer had been in the winner’s stall until last weekend.
After their Melbourne Cup bid, Bauer spent 22 months on the sidelines and was ruled out of the 2009 and 2010 spring Cups.
They resumed this season for just their third run since the Melbourne Cup three years ago, with a disappointing first-up 10th, beaten 15 lengths on August 6 when forced to carry 66.5kg over 2098 metres at Haydock Park.
It was a far more promising result for Bauer and his trainer Cumani over the weekend, the able old warhorse taking out the Betfred Bundles Old Borough Cup at Haydock.
Showing hints of the great talent that has been hampered by injury over the years, Bauer was ridden expertly by Neil Callan to beat home Nehaam by one and a quarter lengths, impressing connections and jockey Callan.
“I was a little bit worried as there was a change of pace and it got a big messy, but I got a nice run round,” Callan said.
“For a staying horse, he’s got quite a good turn of foot.”
Bauer was one of 25 international entries paid up for at nomination stage last week for this year’s edition of the iconic $6.2 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m), and one of four for Cumani.
Despite having run second in a Melbourne Cup field previously, Bauer is yet to qualify for this year’s race because of the balloting time restrictions.
“That form from 2008 has all lapsed now, so he has to requalify for the Melbourne Cup and unfortunately last night’s race did not do that,” Bauer’s part-owner Terry Henderson of OTI Racing said on the weekend.
“That means we’ll have to go back to the Geelong Cup to try and earn his spot.”
While Henderson was confident Bauer would enter quarantine next Friday before flying to Melbourne on September 22 along with his trio of stablemates, breeder and fellow co-owner Tony Chapman was yet to confirm whether they would not only line-up in the 2011 Melbourne Cup field on Tuesday November 1, but actually fly down under at all.
“I don’t know whether he’ll go back there (to the Melbourne Cup) this year, we’ll have to speak to Luca and the other owners,” he said.
“We came here to find out how good he still was and I’m pleasantly surprised how well he has done it.
“We will have to see whether he will go across to Australia.
“He’s not the best of travellers, so we want to be sure he is at his best.”
Cumani, who also came within one horse of Melbourne Cup glory with 2007 runner-up Purple Moon, is also represented in the 2011 Melbourne Cup nominations by Drunken Sailor, Manighar and the former Chilean-trained Sahara Sun.
Melbourne Cup 2011 betting futures at Luxbet are currently lead by Shamrocker at a quote of $11 while the shortest-priced of Cumani’s contenders is last-start Goodwood winner Drunken Sailor paying $31.
Five-year-old Manighar, seventh in last year’s Melbourne Cup result, is at $41; Bauer $81 and Sahara Sun the longest-priced of the quartet in the latest Melbourne Cup odds at $151.
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