Top Hong Kong horseman and former champion hoop Tony Cruz has confirmed long term plans to head down under with his progressive stallion Willie Cazals eyeing a start in the iconic 2014 Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse on the first Tuesday of November.
The Aussie Rules five-year-old was last seen running fifth in an 1800m handicap at Happy Valley at the start of the month but was showing much better form earlier over more distance.
Lightly raced having had just the eight career starts to date, including two Listed wins from there opening three starts when kicking off in Italy, Willie Cazals showed their ability at Sha Tin during May with two close second place finishes.
On the back of a 2200m win at home in April the galloper was firstly defeated only a nose by Dominant in the Group 3 The Queen Mother Memorial Cup (2400m) after working their way back from an awkward start that saw them nine lengths off the leader early.
Their next run was also an eye-catcher when they were beaten just over a length by their four-time Group 1 champion stablemate California Memory in the Group 1 Champions & Charter Cup (2400m) when ridden by former Melbourne Cup winning jockey Gerald Mosse.
Now the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) could be on the agenda for Willie Cazals not this year but for the 2014 Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
“He had a core lesion injury last year and he has come back well but we are going to stick to the Hong Kong program and look to the Melbourne Cup in 2014,” Cruz said.
“First he needs to prove himself in Hong Kong. Our local program is very important and he can win some very good prize money.
“If he is successful (in Hong Kong in the 2013/14 season) then he will come, that’s for sure.”
As for California Memory Cruz confirmed they would not be making the trip to Australia despite having had a full subsidy of travel expenses offered to them with their invite by the Moonee Valley Racing Club to run in the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) this October.
Futures markets on the ‘race that stops a nation’ meanwhile are open now at bookmaker.com.au for this year with the ante-post Melbourne Cup odds are currently led by Puissance De Lune at $9.
Darren Weir’s talented Shamrdal grey is back in work ahead of their spring return having last been seen dead-heating for first with Budriguez in their only autumn run in the Group 2 Blamey Stakes (1600m) at Flemington.
Prior to that they entered Melbourne Cup calculations last spring when the eight length winner of the Bendigo Cup over the mile and a half (2400m) and then an easy five length victory over Ironstein in the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) on Emirates Stakes Day proved their staying potential again.
“He’s in good order, he went to the sand dunes on Wednesday morning for the first time this preparation so it’s onwards and upwards from here,” Weir said after Puissance De Lune had their first proper gallop at the Warrnambool sand dunes this week.
“He’ll just keep going to the dunes in the immediate future and the next step will be a quiet jump out if all is going well in around six to eight weeks’ time.”
To get in on the early Melbourne Cup betting action before markets firm with the release of the official 2013 Melbourne Cup nominations in September then head over to bookmaker.com.au – home of the spring carnival’s best Group 1 racing odds!