Lambourn-based trainer Nicky Henderson is considering a return trip to Oz for a 2014 Melbourne Cup raid with Forgotten Voice after their solid fourth at Royal Ascot over the weekend.
The veteran stayer ran a distant fourth behind runaway winner Telescope, who scored by an impressive seven lengths, in the £213,300 Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes (2414m) on Saturday in their second run of the season.
First-up the Danehill Dancer nine-year-old was second behind last year’s Melbourne Cup third placegetter Mount Athos in the Listed JLT Aston Park Stakes (2670m) at Newbury.
They didn’t have the pace then to match them in the Hardwicke when dropped down in distance but up in class.
Last spring the lightly-raced stayer, who has now still had under 30 career starts, had a two run campaign down under but missed their major targets including the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on the first Tuesday of November.
Their Australian debut was scheduled as the $2.65 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) but they were scratched from the race and instead had to contest the following week’s Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m).
There they ran fifth to Ibicenco failing to let down on the Heavy (9) track that failed to earn them a spot in the capacity 18-starter Melbourne Cup field.
Henderson also scratched them from the Group 2 Moonee Valley Cup (2500m) leaving their only other run being a fourth behind Precedence in the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) during the Cup Carnival, an improved effort on an improved Dead-rated track at Flemington.
Forgotten Voice is then a chance to return and atone for last year, Henderson again eying off a Melbourne Cup run, with the weather the only roadblock.
“It’s an option, the thing is he needs quick ground and when we ran in the Caulfield Cup trying to get into the Melbourne Cup, the weather was like how it is over here and ground turned out to be soft,” they said.
Third in the Hardwicke on the weekend was the Australian-owned Pether’s Moon, also being considered for a trip to Melbourne.
Their owner John Manley is especially keen to target the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) in late October, but the Melbourne Cup also hasn’t been ruled out for the son of Dylan Thomas.
Ballymacoll Stud managing director Peter Renyolds meanwhile has put a warning to potential Aussie buyers off eye-catching Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes winner Arab Spring.
Renyolds said on Saturday there would be likely interest in the smart Sir Michael Stoute-trained four-year-old after their two length effort in the 2414m event over Salutation.
But he warned off prospective buyers of the high pedigree stayer who has now won all four of their 2014 starts and four of their five career runs.
“The Australians would like to buy him, particularly being by Monsun the sire of Fiorente and half-brother to Glass Harmonium, but I think we’d have to find a new trainer if we sold him,” Renyolds said.
“I don’t think Michael would be very happy.
“To keep the name of Ballymacoll and the company going we need a horse like him every so often.”
While his sire produced last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente, Arab Spring is most likely to stay in Europe and target the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France in the first week of October.
Forgotten Voice meanwhile is already listed in the futures Melbourne Cup odds at our preferred online bookie Ladbrokes.com.au paying $101 to score an upset in the ‘race that stops a nation’.
Melbourne Cup betting is currently led by The Offer at an all-in price of $13 after the Gai Waterhouse-trained Montjeu gelding won three on the trot this autumn including the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) last time out.
To check out the full Melbourne Cup futures markets and get behind your favourites visit Ladbrokes.com.au who have an exclusive Ladbrokes Card for customers giving you access to your account via any ATM in the country!