After an eye-catching second in the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup (4023m) during the Royal Ascot Carnival this week, connections of the Willie Mullins-trained Simenon are aiming their sights on the iconic 2013 Melbourne Cup down under this spring.
Six-year-old European galloper Simenon, ridden by Johnny Murtagh, held on well after chasing down the early leaders to come with a half-length of the Queen’s horse Estimate in the elite level staying feature at Ascot on Thursday which was their first run in 43 days.
“He’s run a career-best, which I said he might have to, and we’re very pleased,” their Irish trainer and top jumps horseman Mullins said after the win.
“I wasn’t disappointed to be second, maybe for the first time in my life.
“Our horse ran well above his form, a career best for him I am sure.
“It was the perfect race to be in. We had every chance at the furlong-marker and I thought he might just win with Johnny (Murtagh) but Ryan pulled something more out on Estimate and we were beaten by a great team.
“We are very happy — it was a great horse to watch and experience.
“This is a fantastic result for racing. The stands just erupted from about the furlong-marker and then everyone rushed to the back of the stands to see the winner — a fantastic day and atmosphere.”
The progressive Marju gelding has plenty of form over the longer distance features with lots of their racing experience coming from the hurdles.
But it is a very prestigious flat race that they could now be set for with Mullins naming the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington Racecourse on Tuesday November 5 as a race they would love to set Simenon for.
“The plan this year is to take him to the Melbourne Cup and I always said that if I had a horse good enough to run there then I would love to go back,” Mullins said.
“This horse loves these staying races and I think the Melbourne Cup would suit him really well.”
Mullins has had just one previous runner in the ‘race that stops a nation’ when Holy Orders finished a distant 17th to the mighty Makybe Diva the first of her three historical Melbourne Cup victories.
“We ran Holy Orders in the Melbourne Cup and we learned a lot from that trip and will go back with a lot more experience,” he said.
“Holy Orders was not the easiest horse to go on a trip and this horse will be much easier.
“At least he is keen about his training, whereas Holy Orders wasn’t to put it mildly.”
If Melbourne Cup plans do eventuate Mullins is likely to debut Simenon in Melbourne prior to the world’s richest handicap as a lead-up to the cup.
“We want to take our horse to the Melbourne Cup and I’ll start making plans when I get home,” Mullins said.
“It’s going to make November a little busy.”
Simenon, who enjoyed two wins at Royal Ascot last carnival by six and seven lengths respectively over 4023m and 4369m, is yet to be added to the pre-nomination Melbourne Cup betting markets but is expected to be installed at around $26.
Punters can still lock in juicy odds on a whole host of other hopefuls however including top fancy Puissance De Lune ($9).
To check out the current Melbourne Cup odds before the September nominations head to bookmaker.com.au and open your account with the country’s premier sportsbook enjoying a $500 bonus bet on the house when you do!