Legendary Newmarket-based horseman Luca Cumani remains confident with his decision not to give his British raider Mount Athos a previous run down under ahead of the 2012 Melbourne Cup next Tuesday believing the fresh is best approach will pay off in the ‘race that stops a nation’.
Cumani may have won more than half a century of Group 1 races around the globe but the coveted Melbourne Cup has so far eluded the Irish-bred trainer.
He has come close on two occasions with Purple Moon finishing second behind Efficient in 2007 before his popular grey Bauer came within a nose of the Bart Cummings-trained Viewed 12 months later.
This year Cumani still has three official chances in the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) following the taking of second acceptances on Monday.
Two of Cumani’s trio are assured of a start in the 24-horse Melbourne Cup final field, released after Victoria Derby Day on Saturday, with Mount Athos and My Quest For Peace sitting 12th and 19th respectively on the Melbourne Cup order of entry.
His third hopeful Ibicenco meanwhile is in danger of missing out on a spot sitting 37th in the ballot, the Shirocco stallion to run in the $200,000 Group 2 Lexus Stakes (2500m) this Saturday to vie for the ballot exemption.
In the latest Melbourne Cup betting markets at bookmaker.com.au My Quest For Peace, who ran an excellent fifth in their Aussie debut in the Caulfield Cup behind reigning Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden, pays $26 while Ibicenco is a $301 roughie.
Mount Athos, who will be ridden by ace UK jockey Ryan Moore, meanwhile is one of only three single figure fancies in the Melbourne Cup odds paying $8 and trailing only Americain ($6) and Dunaden ($7).
The Montjeu gelding will be racing down under for the first time in the Melbourne Cup but the bookies are taking zero chances with Mount Athos having won their past three starts back home.
Last seen running away with the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes (2670m) at Newbury on August 18, Mount Athos does all of his best racing with his runs well spaced according to his trainer with the 80 days between runs from the Geoffrey Freer to the Cup a non-issue.
“His form card makes it very clear that he races best when fresh,” Cumani explained.
“He won first up for us in the spring not having raced for six months and was very impressive.
“He didn’t race for two months and then won again in a listed race and then had 45 days off before winning the Geoffrey Freer at Group 3.
“He’s done his best by racing sparingly. That’s how he likes it.”
Cumani, who has now arrived in Australia to oversee the Cup preparations of his gallopers, is thrilled with the condition of the horse who has been taking it easy at Werribee in the lead-up to Melbourne Cup Day.
“I’m very pleased, he looks great,” Cumani said.
In fact he was happy with how all of his stable looked at Werribee.
“They look very well,” he said.
“Most of the time when I’ve joined them they have had trouble eating or look light and I haven’t been happy but this time I am happy, they look great.”
When asked whether it was Mount Athos or My Quest For Peace he liked best for the Cup this year Cumani had a hard time separating them.
“They are both equally as good,” he said diplomatically.
“Both have group form in England and are in good form. I haven’t got a favourite, may the best horse win.”
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