Last year’s fifth placegetter and top 2013 Melbourne Cup hope Mount Athos has returned to racing with a bang in the UK over the weekend, romping home to claim the Group 3 Ormonde Stakes by nine lengths.
There was a question mark over the competition but the Montjeu gelding was in a league of his own, winning the 2700m race by nine lengths.
It was the six-year-old’s first race since the Japan Cup in November and trainer Luca Cumani confirmed a return trip to Australia is the year’s major focus.
“All eyes are on Melbourne again,” Cumani told the Racing Post in the UK.
“He will probably have two or three runs in between, but we won’t abuse him, as he is the type who always puts a lot into his races.
“Today was his first major objective, as Marwan [Koukash] loves Chester. Now that job’s done, we can concentrate on the second target.”
Mount Athos is a $13 chance in the Melbourne Cup market, sharing the third line of betting with star New Zealand colt It’s A Dundeel.
Heading the market is Darren Weir-trained grey Puissance De Lune ($9) who will begin beach work on Monday following a minor injury problem.
Sharing second favouritism at $11 are last year’s runner-up Fiorente and Lloyd Williams’ import Sea Moon.
Sea Moon is yet to race in Australia but was a Group 2 winner at last year’s Royal Ascot carnival where he defeated 2011 Melbourne Cup quinella Dunaden and Red Cadeaux.
Other horses featuring high up in Melbourne Cup betting include David Hayes-trained import Jet Away ($15) and Gai Waterhouse’s Michaelangelo ($18).