OTI-owned British stayer Van Percy is set to travel down under for a Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign this season that will include a nomination for the Melbourne Cup 2014.
While a start in the world’s richest handicap is far from assured for the Sir Percy gelding, already Aussie bookies are reacting to their overnight win at Goodwood.
They staked their claims for a Victorian raid this spring when winning a tense two horse battle in the £80,000 Bet365 Summer Handicap (2816m).
Carrying 58kg with David Probert in the saddle Van Percy jumped from the outside barrier 14 draw but worked their way up to the lead over the final 200 metres.
Despite a brave late challenge from the Luca Cumani-trained Havana Cooler, Van Percy was able to narrowly hold on for a quarter length victory.
It was an improved effort from the winner who came off a disappointing last when ninth beaten 12 lengths by Angel Gabrial in the Northumberland Plate (3236m) at Newcastle last Month, and one that has Balding looking forward to bigger things to come.
“He’s tough, not very big, but all heart. That was really well done by David from that draw,” Racing Victoria reported Balding as saying post-win.
The Kingsclere-based Balding is no stranger to Aussie racing having prepared Side Glance for their win in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington last Melbourne Cup Carnival.
The Passing glance seven-year-old also ran sixth on debut in Australia in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) last season.
With OTI Racing securing a majority share in Balding’s potential staying star Van Percy following their earlier 2816m win at Newmarket in May, the galloper is also now earmarked for a trip to Oz.
Before that they will run in the Ebor Handicap at York next month facing off against Havana Cooler again, and then entre quarantine for their international raid.
“With a penalty he’s now likely to get into the Ebor and that’s an obvious target,” Balding said.
“It’s within the quarantine timings so it works out really well.”
For Van Percy’s maiden run down under Balding is looking at the $300,000 Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m).
He will then consider a start in the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 18, nominations for which close next Tuesday.
“He’s likely to have another couple of runs for me in Australia, maybe in something like the Geelong Cup first, and then I think he’ll probably stay down there,” Balding said.
“There’s also the Caulfield Cup to think about.”
The main aim is of course the Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse on November 4, but Balding isn’t getting too ahead of himself just yet.
“OTI bought a major share in him with that in mind. Whatever happens, as long as he’s healthy, he’ll go down to Australia in the first quarantine group,” Balding confirmed.
“He’s going to have to go up another 10lb or so to even get into the Melbourne Cup.”
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