The Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Willing Foe has emerged as the latest possible Melbourne Cup 2012 chance from abroad after their smart win in the Ebor Handicap over the weekend in Europe.
The lightly-raced Dynaformer five-year-old posted their first win since October 2010 in a tense Ebor Handicap result that was subject to a stewards’ inquiry at York.
Willing Foe, who overcame a hefty 58kg weight and unsuitably soft conditions, was ridden by ace Italian jockey Frankie Dettori for the 2800m handicap, Dettori surprisingly never having ridden an Ebor Handicap winner previously.
It was a tight finish with only a neck between Willing Foe, who was second-up for the season, and brave runner-up Royal Diamond from Ireland.
The top two finished on the far rail after Willing Foe drifted across in the final stages, but connections of Royal Diamond did not fight for a protest and first past the post kept their title.
“It’s taken 25 years but my day has come,” Dettori, who was subsequently suspended for six days for careless riding and excessive use of his whip, said after the win.
“I thought I had a chance but it’s the Ebor and I have never won it before.
“I knew I would keep the race. I did drift over a bit, but I beat the other horse fair and square. I might get a small holiday (suspension).
“I didn’t have many boxes to tick, but this was one of them.
“I know it’s only a handicap, but it’s a very prestigious race and it’s always a great crowd here.”
Willing Foe is owned by global racing powerhouse Godolphin who are yet to train a winner in the ‘race that stops a nation’, the iconic $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m), despite a number of close calls over the years.
This season Godolphin are preparing an imposing Melbourne Cup 2012 contingent for the famous Flemington feature which will run on Tuesday November 6 with Willing Foe a chance to join the likes of former Group 1 winner Cavalryman, Danehill Dancer stallion Lost In The Moment, and recent Ascot Gold Cup champion Colour Vision on a trip down under for the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
“The options are open for him. We’ll have a look at everything, but he is a possible for the Melbourne Cup,” Saeed bin Suroor said.
“We’ve got a few in it, but I think the trip would be perfect for him.
“We also have Cavalryman, Lost In The Moment and Colour Vision.
“As we come close to quarantine time we will decide. Usually we choose two to take there.”
On Friday night Lost In The Moment and Cavalryman ran third and fourth respectively behind the William Buick-ridden Times Up in the Group 2 Londsdale Cup (3280m) in a nice Melbourne Cup preparation.
The Ebor Handicap victory also makes Willing Foe exempt from ballot for the $2.5 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) held on October 20, the horse a possible late entry for the race when they close on Tuesday.
Godolphin took Lost In The Moment (7th) and Fox Hunt from the Ebor (6th) to the Melbourne Cup 12 months ago, the duo finishing sixth and seventh respectively to the French-trained Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden.
Willing Foe is yet to be added to the Melbourne Cup betting markets at bookmaker.com.au, but Godolphin’s Colour Vision is one of the top fancies at a quote of $21.
It is an equal price with the likes of 2010 winner Americain and the John Gosden-trained Gatewood in the Melbourne Cup odds that are currently led by Luca Cumani’s flying Montjeu gelding Mount Athos ($16).
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