Former Geelong Cup winner Gatewood is the headline European stayer set to travel down under for a Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign for Victorian-based syndicate OTI Racing.
OTI have plans to bring over a contingent of around five gallopers this spring including Melbourne Cup 2014 hope Gatewood as confirmed by the managing director Terry Henderson this week.
The Galileo stallion has had two campaigns on Aussie soil but is yet to race in the iconic $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on the first Tuesday of November.
This year though the world’s richest handicap is the definite aim for the rising seven-year-old who will look to atone for missing out on a run two years ago.
During the 2012 spring season Gatewood bounced back from a Herbert Power Stakes seventh to wins the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m).
That victory saw them shoot up the Melbourne Cup odds but it wasn’t enough to confirm them a start in the capacity 24-starter final field.
They looked to earn that spot racing in the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) the Saturday before the Cup on Victoria Derby Day.
It was a failed effort however as they ran sixth to Kelinni and were turned out for a break.
Gatewood was still in Australia the following autumn however racing four times during last year’s Sydney carnival.
They failed to finish better than fourth however when first-up in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) trained by Chris Waller.
Waller prepared them then for three Group 1 runs but Gatewood was well beaten in the Chipping Norton (7th), Ranvet Stakes (9th) and finally The BMW (11th).
Back with John Gosden in Newmarket since then the horse has bounced back and has been racing very well in Great Britain.
Their first campaign back home saw them run top three in all four of their end of 2013 runs.
Then this time in they kicked off with a second at Doncaster over 2414m before winning back-to-back races over the same distance first at Ascot on May 10 and then at Goodwood in the Listed Tapster Stakes on May 24.
They’re set to have one more European run in a feature race at Royal Ascot then before preparing for their Melbourne Cup campaign.
“We may have Gatewood going around (at Royal Ascot), I think there are two handicap races later in the week but John (Gosden) will make his mind over the weekend,” Henderson told Racing Victoria.
“I think one of them is the Wolferton Handicap (over 2000m on Friday) which he actually won about two years ago just before we bought him.
“He had a good campaign when he was over here previously and obviously the wheels fell off when he stayed here but we’d like to bring him back so he is certainly a potential to come to Melbourne.”
Also set to travel with Gatewood to Oz are three up-and-coming four-year-olds.
Staying types Montclair, Au Revoir and the Marco Botti-trained Dansili gelding Renew are all in the mix for a Europe run soon before going into quarantine ahead of their Australian assault.
“We’ve just gelded Renew and we’re looking for a very different sort of horse towards the end of this season,” Henderson said of the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes (2400m) fourth placegetter from last month.
“He is quite a good horse and he’s coming out no matter what but we’d hope the gelding process encourages a positive change.”
Montclair meanwhile is prepared by top French trainer Andrew Fabre, the four-year-old having caught the eye in April with their Group 3 Prix de Barbeville (3100m) victory.
They were also a close fourth in the Group 2 Prix Vicomtesse Vigier over the same distance at Longchamp last month suggesting they could be competitive over the 3200m of the Melbourne Cup.
Also trained by Fabre is Au Revoir, a two time Listed winner who has been up there this season too racing well against the Pascal Bary-trained Spiritjim.
Of the stablemates Henderson predicted Montclair was most likely to stand up in the Melbourne Cup while the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 18 was the option for Au Revoir and Renew.
“Montclair will be in the Prix Kergorlay (3000m, Deauville, 24 August) and I’d say he’s definitely our best Melbourne Cup horse and there are probably three of four others that will make good Caulfield Cup horses,” Henderson said.
Henderson also confirmed plans to target the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) and the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) for the Luca Cumani-trained Seussical.
Pre-nomination Melbourne Cup betting markets are already open at Ladbrokes.com.au with The Offer ($13) leading the early charge.
Gai Waterhouse’s Montjeu gelding won three straight in their latest campaign during the autumn including the Group 1 Sydney Cup, also run over the two miles, where they made a mess of their rivals with a four length victory over the Chris Waller-trained Opinion.
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