Luca Cumani’s flying Montjeu galloper Mount Athos has moved to the top of the 2012 Melbourne Cup odds at bookies around Australia after posting a good first-up victory at Newbury over the weekend.
The five-year-old European galloper has now won seven of their 20 career starts including their last three appearances thanks to an impressive three and a quarter length third over Brown Panther in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes (2671m) – Modun, dead last in the Melbourne Cup last spring, finishing off the winning trifecta.
It is now all systems go for Mount Athos to travel down under this spring where they will target the $6.2 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington Racecourse on Tuesday November 6.
“I talked to (jockey) Ryan Moore, who seemed very happy and thought the horse picked up nicely,” Cumani said having missed the race himself due to a traffic jam.
“I listened to it and it sounded like an ideal prep for Melbourne.
“The plan is to go for the Melbourne Cup.”
Leading into the Geoffrey Freer Stakes Mount Athos also won back-to-back races over 2816m firstly at Newmarket in May and then a blistering four length effort in the Listed John Smith’s Silver Cup at York in July.
It was their Silver Cup performance, when they carried 63.5kg to victory which was an incredible 11.5kg more than the race favourite Suraji, that first got the attention of the 2012 Melbourne Cup punters.
Mount Athos has now firmed into the $19 co-favourite in the Melbourne Cup betting markets at bookmaker.com.au, equal with the defending champ Dunaden.
What makes the horse such an appealing chance in the world’s richest two mile handicap is that they are likely to get into the Melbourne Cup field with a relatively light weight.
“After this, I would think he will go up to 53.5 kilograms (in the Melbourne Cup weights), which is the same as one of other hopes for the race, Quest For Peace,” Cumani said.
“Let’s just hope the handicapper isn’t unkind to him.”
Cumai will be vying for his maiden win in the ‘race that stops a nation’, the internationally acclaimed trainer having twice prepared the Melbourne Cup runner-up.
Purple Moon (2007) was his first when they crossed just a length off the great grey Efficient five years ago, and then there was Bauer the following year who was just a nose off Bart Cummings’ 12th Melbourne Cup winner Viewed (2008).
Mount Athos is tipped to make their debut down under in the $250,000 Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) on October 24, a race that has produced the past two Melbourne Cup winners with Americain (2010) and Dunaden (2011).
Dr Marwan Koukash owns Mount Athos and confirmed that the Melbourne Cup was most definitely on the agenda.
“Melbourne here we come!” Koukash said after the race.
“That was fantastic, beating Group 1 horses. I always had confidence in him. He will go into quarantine and go to Australia early.”
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