Award Season Gains Mornington Cup 2013 Start

Kris Lees’ highly spruiked Sydney Award Season has gained a start in this afternoon’s 2013 Mornington Cup as the first emergency following yesterday’s scratching of Dame Claire much to the relief of their Broadmeadow-based trainer.

Award Season

Award Season has earned a start in the Mornington Cup this afternoon. Photo: Steve Hart

When markets for the $350,000 Listed Mornington Cup (2400m) were first released it was Tuscan Fire heading the odds however with the news five-year-old Dansilie gelding Award Season, a winner of their past three starts on the trot, will be among their rivals however the betting has shifted in favour of the latest edition to the field.

Award Season and the Dan O’Sullivan-trained Prelude runner-up Tuscan Fire are both now sharing the first line of Mornington Cup betting at a quote of $4.60.

Lees has been targeting the lucrative Mornington Cup with Award Season for over a month so the news they will get a shot at the title and the ensuring Caulfield Cup 2013 ballot exemption on offer to the winner comes as great news even though there’s a long way to go between now and the spring.

“He’s got a long way to go to reach that level,” Lees said on Tuesday.

“Those really top Group One races are getting stronger and stronger. But we’ll probably get a few questions answered tomorrow.”

Having been stabled at Mornington for just over a week the imported French galloper is set for their Melbourne debut after showing off in Sydney for the past couple of months.

“He arrived at Mornington last Sunday week and he’s done all his work down there and been around on the course proper three times,” Lees said.

“It’s a tricky track and I looked at it and thought it was best for him to experience it as much as he could before the race.

“He’s handled it really well and he’s had experience racing that direction when he was in France. He raced that way a few times over there and had reasonable form.”

They broke their maiden status down under three starts in at Muswellbrook in December before heading to Warwick Farm in early January to salute again this time over the mile and a half.

Dropping back to 1900m last start on January 25 at Canterbury Award Season easily account for their rivals winning by four lengths carrying 57.5kg and will relish the drop back to 54kg today with Kerrin McEvoy retaining the ride.

“He’s really continued to please after each run and probably gone forward off each run which is what you like to see in a stayer,” Lees said.

“In some ways he’s probably surprised me a bit but none the less, it’s been very pleasing.”

Top local trainer Pat Carey meanwhile will now be represented by just one runner after originally accepting for four from his stables.

Joining Dame Claire in the defectors list for Carey are the second and third emergencies Altonio and Angola who have both now also been officially ruled out.

Carey’s sole hope is then Durnford in gate 10 with Craig Williams to ride.

The in-form Helenus gelding is the $6 second favourite in the Mornington Cup odds at as they look to complete the Mornington Cup double having narrowly beaten home Tuscan Fire in the Prelude at Caulfield last start.

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