This spring Nigel Blackiston has his sights set on a Melbourne Cup 2014 victory with Adelaide Cup winner Outback Joe who is out to emulate his champion dam Let’s Elope in the ‘race that stops a nation’.
Bart Cummings’ New Zealand-bred Let’s Elope became the first mare in over 50 years to complete the iconic Caulfield Cup – Melbourne Cup double back in 1991.
Now she’s inline to win the famous Flemington feature on the first Tuesday of November again this year via one of her prodigy, Elvstroem gelding Outback Joe.
The rising seven-year-old is back in work with their Flemington-based trainer Blackiston ahead of their new season campaign targeting the $6 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 4.
A winner of five of their 23 starts to date Outback Joe was last seen strutting their stuff over the two miles when holding off Black Tycoon to win the Group 2 Adelaide Cup (3200m) at Morphettville on March 10.
That followed a good summer – autumn prep in Melbourne that included a Listed Bagot Handicap (2800m) victory at Flemington and a third to Cooldini in the Listed Roy Higgins Handicap (2600m).
Now with their third trainer, Outback Joe is lightly raced for their age and was only stepped up to stakes’ company for the first time last preparation.
Blackiston then is hoping they still have the miles for a big spring with their Black Type experience to pay off and be put to the test as they head towards a run in the world’s richest handicap.
“I learned that he can peak twice in a preparation last time in,” Blackiston told AAP.
“He will obviously need a couple of runs to get him up to a suitable trip but I could not be happier with the way he is coming along.”
They’ve certainly got some history to overcome though if they are to win the Melbourne Cup 23 years after their mother’s success for the ‘Cups’ King’.
The last horse to win the Adelaide Cup – Melbourne Cup double was the great Subzero back in 1992.
Four years later Skybeau, who ran in both the Adelaide and Melbourne Cups five times in total, ran 2nd to French Resort at Morphettville and third to Saintly at Flemington in 1996.
While the history isn’t in his favour, the Melbourne Cup weights should certainly help.
Outback Joe is currently on a rating of 100 so at this stage would get into the race with just 50.5kg with the Adelaide Cup downgraded to a Group 2 race over the years.
That weight relief works both ways however as it would see them in serious danger of missing out on a start in the capacity 24-starter Melbourne Cup field sitting well down the order of entry.
Blackiston then will look to improve their rating ahead of the Cup once they return to racing.
“He has at least passed the first ballot clause by winning the Adelaide Cup,” Blackiston said.
“I know he has to improve a bit to be a realistic chance in the Cup but (owner) Dennis (Marks) would be delighted if we can get him into the field and emulate his mother.”
Gai Waterhouse’s Sydney Cup winner The Offer leads the latest pre-nomination Melbourne Cup odds at bookmakers around the country at a quote of around $11.
Outback Joe meanwhile is also listed in the tentative markets but is a triple figure roughie, a price that will firm if they return from their spell in top order.
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