Glen Boss has his fingers, toes and everything else crossed that John Gosden’s British raider Gatewood can sneak into the Melbourne Cup 2012 field otherwise last weekend’s Cox Plate winning hoop could find himself without a ride in the ‘race that stops a nation’ on Tuesday week.
Boss became one of the most recognised names in Australian racing when he rode superstar mare Makybe Diva to her record three consecutive Melbourne Cup victories from 2003 – 2005.
He has failed to ride a Melbourne Cup winner since and is in danger of missing out on a ride in the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) this year.
In line for the ride on Galileo stallion Gatewood, Boss is praying the smart five-year-old can move up the Melbourne Cup order of entry and score a spot in the coveted 24-horse Melbourne Cup 2012 field with a win on Victoria Derby Day at Flemington this Saturday.
“My whole focus this week is to get that horse into the Melbourne Cup for Simon [O’Donnell] and Terry [Henderson] and the whole OTI crew,” Boss said.
Gatewood is one of five internationals currently outside the top 24 in the Melbourne Cup ballot sitting 33rd after yesterday’s Melbourne Cup second declarations were taken.
Rated a $26 in the latest Melbourne Cup odds at bookmaker.com.au the horse debuted down under on October 13 running a luckless seventh to French galloper Shahwardi, 29th on the Melbourne Cup order of entry, in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m).
They atoned for that defeat last Wednesday with a smart win in the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m), a race that has produced the last two Melbourne Cup champions with the French-trained duo Americain (2010) and Dunaden (2011) having both scored the Geelong – Melbourne Cup double.
While they were penalised 1kg for their Geelong Cup triumph, where Boss replaced Corey Brown, it was not enough to secure them a start in the world’s richest handicap race.
Connections now have a final chance for Gatewood to make the field by racing them in one of the two races on Derby Day this Saturday offering the winner a Melbourne Cup ballot exemption, the horse nominated for both the $1 million Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) and the $200,000 Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m).
The 2012 Lexus Stakes is the likely assignment for Gatewood, Boss to maintain his association with them in the race, but even a win in that may not guarantee them a Melbourne Cup Day run.
“If he wins, he automatically qualifies for a Cup start, but that doesn’t mean he will automatically run,” part-owner Terry Henderson from OTI said.
“The Lexus will be his third race in five weeks, which is most unusual for a European galloper.
“Realistically we have three or four hours (after the Lexus) to be conclusively convinced that running in the Cup would be the best thing for the horse.”
Boss admits the pressure is certainly on him this weekend to get the horse to the line first in the Lexus.
“I have to get that right,” he said.
“He’s a legitimate chance of winning the Melbourne Cup – he’s just a good horse.
“He’s obviously got tactical speed; he was strong through the line at Geelong. He was really running through the line.
“The only fallback I have is Green Moon, so I have to get him in to make sure I’m there next Tuesday.”
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