William Haggas’ European stayer Harris Tweed has begun their campaign targeting the iconic 2012 Melbourne Cup at Flemington this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival with a good first-up win at Newbury.
The Hernando five-year-old is one of the many overseas raiders eyeing off the prize in the world’s richest handicap, the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on the first Tuesday of November.
The past two editions of the ‘race that stops a nation’ have been won by internationals with the then French-trained but Aussie-owned Americain in 2010, and then fellow French galloper Dunaden’s historically tight win over Red Cadeaux last year.
Harris Tweed will look to join them with a Melbourne Cup 2012 victory, the tough stallion yet to race at Group 1 level.
Over the weekend they enjoyed a good Group 3 victory over 2400-metres at Newbury in the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes when ridden by Liam Jones, the favourite putting a good five lengths on Allied Powers on the line.
“He thoroughly deserved that,” Newmarket-based Haggas said after the win.
“He drew a blank last year and it’s hard to believe that’s his first Group win.”
The victory qualified Harris Tweed for the Melbourne Cup, Haggas’ next goal being to determine whether they will race the two miles.
“To qualify for the Melbourne Cup you need to win a Group race over a mile and a half (2400m) and now we need to be sure he stays two miles (3200m),” he said.
“I’m going to try to draw a plan to have a crack at the Melbourne Cup.
“He is in the Yorkshire Cup and he might run if it’s soft.”
The Group 2 Yorkshire Cup (2816m), originally run over the 3200-metres until 1966, takes place on May 18.
Harris Tweed was targeting a start in the Melbourne Cup last year but missed out on a start in the capacity 24-starter Melbourne Cup final field after their narrow second to the then Luca Cumani-trained Drunken Sailor in the Group 3 Glorious Stakes (2414m) at Goodwood last July.
Drunken Sailor, now prepared in Victoria by Michael Moroney, ran 12th in last year’s Melbourne Cup.
In the futures Melbourne Cup odds at our preferred online sportsbook bookmaker.com.au Americian is the equal $21 favourite with Lucas Cranach, Manighar and Mawingo.
Access the full early Melbourne Cup betting odds and options now at bookmaker.com.au.
Don’t have an account with Australia’s leading bookie? Join quoting the code BONUSBET to also enjoy a $300 Bonus Bet to use on a race of your choice!