One of the 44 international Caulfield Cup entries this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, connections of in-form Japanese raider Bande have this week confirmed intentions to target the 2041 Melbourne Cup.
The lightly-raced Authorized stallion has had just 12 starts to date, five-year-old Bande having secured an authoritative five length effort on Sunday in the Listed Sapporo Nikkei Open (2600m) to take them up to five wins.
Their performance excited trainer Yoshito Yahagi and also confirmed to connections the Group 1 performer would be capable of being competitive in the ‘race that stops a nation’ in Victoria this spring.
A representative for Yahagi’s stable has been in contact with Racing Victoria’s Chief International Recruitment Officer Leigh Jordon to confirm Melbourne Cup ambitions for the horse.
“Keita Tanaka, who is the Racing Manager for Yoshito Yahagi, confirmed to me today that Bande is coming to Melbourne for the Spring Racing Carnival,” Jordon said on Monday.
The $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) is now also on the agenda for Bande who is yet to be added to the Ladbrokes.com.au markets on the November 4 classic at Flemington Racecourse.
Connections also haven’t ruled out a lead-up run in the $300,000 Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) on October 22.
“The Melbourne Cup will be the primary target for Bande and at this stage both the Caulfield Cup and Geelong Cup remain on the table as potential lead-up runs,” Jordon added.
Bande are very well liked in the Ladbrokes Caulfield Cup odds paying $17 as the equal second favourite in markets led by Australian Oaks winner Rising Romance.
Along with Bande the other two Japanese-trained stayers nominated for the 2014 Caulfield Cup this season are Admire Rakti and Admire Flight who pay $26 and $34 respectively through Ladbrokes.com.au to win in an upset.
If any of the trio does run in the $3 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 18 they will be the first from Japan in the race since Tokai Trick ran 12th back in 2010.
The Melbourne Cup winners’ list meanwhile features a Japanese-trained name in Delta Blues who ran the quinella with their stablemate Pop Rock back in 2006.
The formline of Bande meanwhile has similarities to Delta Blues’ leading up to their Melbourne Cup victory.
Bande ran third behind top stayer Gold Ship in the Group 2 Hanshin Daishotin (3000m) in March, the same race and position Delta Blues finished in eight years ago before their trip down under.
“The horse couldn’t have been more impressive winning at Sapporo on the weekend and his form in Stakes races behind the likes of Epiphaneia (in last year’s Group 1 Kikuka Sho over 3000m) and Gold Ship is strong,” Jordon, who spoke in person with Yahagi when he went to Japan in May, said.
“We’ve seen how Japanese-trained horses have performed in Melbourne previously so the prospect of a return in 2014 is extremely exciting.”
2014 Melbourne Cup nominations close on Tuesday September 2 and all three horses from Japan that feature in the Caulfield Cup entries are expected to be nominated for.
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