David Hayes’ in-form import Jet Away has opened top fancy to win Saturday’s 2013 Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington and earn a start back at the track three days later in the iconic Melbourne Cup field.
The Cape Cross stallion is one of just nine stayers lining up in this year’s $1 million Group 1 Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) field, the race due to jump as Flemington Race 5 at 2:15pm (AEST).
With a ballot exemption on offer for the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) next Tuesday to the Mackinnon Stakes winner, it’s sure to be a hotly contested affair.
Jet Away is one horse needing the win to make the 24-horse Cup field next week which is announced after the Victoria Derby Day racing finishes up on Saturday afternoon.
Transferred to Hayes’ care from Sir Henry Cecil in Britain earlier in the year, Jet Away won their opening two starts down under during March.
A six month spell followed and they returned at Flemington on October 5 to run just two lengths away seventh to subsequent Cox Plate runner-up Happy Trails in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m).
A fortnight later they ran in another Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival major when the same distance away fourth to Fawkner in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).
Sitting 30th on the Melbourne Cup order of entry, and rated a $14 chance in the pre-field markets, Jet Away is tipped to take out the Mackinnon and earn a shot at the world’s richest handicap.
In the latest Mackinnon Stakes odds the rails-drawn favourite pays $2.90, Glen Boss booked for the ride.
The second fancy in Mackinnon Stakes betting at $3.80 is then the Robert Heathcote-trained Brisbane visitor Solzhenitsyn.
Drawn nicely in barrier two with Nash Rawiller in the saddle, the St Petersburg seven-year-old has been in ace form this spring.
First-up at Sydney they were runner-up to Riva De Lago in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1400m) before heading to Melbourne for a third to Rebel Dane in the Group 2 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m).
Stepped up to the mile at Caulfield last start though it was Solzhenitsyn’s time to shine as they won the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) in a lovely Mackinnon lead-up.
For the Toorak Sozlehintisy wore a hood but will wear only winkers on Saturday, a gear change Heathcote hopes will give them the upper hand for another Group 1 win.
“I had done it (changed the gear) on the advice of Nash (Rawiller), one of the best jockeys in the country, because he felt Solz didn’t need the blinkers now and winkers would work just as well,” Heathcote told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“It is a hard race to win, the Mackinnon, and this might be the edge we need to knock it off.”
Two other Mackinnon Stakes hopes are then under double figures with Mick Price’s German import Pakal ($5) getting early love from the punters after winning the Cranbourne Cup last start and the Clarry Conners-trained mare Dear Demi ($9) coming off an excellent Caulfield Cup third.
Also in the mix and not without their claims are then Mr Moet ($12) who is likely to bypass the Melbourne Cup and head back home to Perth for a title defense in the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) on November 23, and the Chris Waller-trained Moriarty ($15).
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