A major spanner has been thrown into the Cox Plate 2014 works of Dan Excel with the Hong Kong raider to miss his original first-up Australian run in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes this weekend due to a virus.
Bought down under by Aussie expat turned Hong Kong trainer John Moore earlier in the year, the Shamardal gelding has been residing with Moore’s brother Gary at Rosehill in Sydney.
He travelled by float to Moore’s Melbourne stables where on Tuesday Dan Excel was found to be suffering from an elevated temperature.
Last seen winning the Group 1 Singapore International Cup (2000m) at Kranji Racecourse in May where Australian hoop Tommy Berry guided the now seven-year-old to victory, Dan Excel is earmarked for Australasia’s weight-for-age championship on October 25.
The $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley Racecourse has long been the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival target for the champ, but now his campaign is in doubt.
The virus will see Dan Excel miss the $400,000 Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Sunday, the race drawing a final field of 14 led by the Peter Moody-trained Dissident.
“We aren’t sure of the cause just yet but Dan Excel had an elevated temperature,” Moore told the South China Morning Post Racing on Tuesday.
“I told his owner, David Boehm, and we agreed that, in the best interests of the horse, he should be scratched from Sunday’s run.”
He was originally to have used the Sir Rupert Clarke as a tune-up before a second-up start in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) on October 11.
Where Dan Excel will resume and the path he’ll take towards the Cox Plate is now up in the air with the first preference being the horse’s health.
“(It) has become a game of wait and see,” Moore said.
“I don’t know about the Toorak run now. I would like to run him in a 1,400m race first-up rather than 1,600m, then into the Cox Plate, but I can’t make any plans at all at the moment, regardless of the program available.
“Right now, it’s all up to Dan Excel.
“Where we can go with him will depend on how quickly we resolve whatever the issue is.
“Until Ben Mason, the attending vet, gives him the all-clear it’s wait and see.”
Futures Cox Plate betting markets following this week’s second declarations, 67 gallopers left in the mix, are led by Robert Hickmott’s reigning Caulfield Cup winner Fakwner ($8), Dissident ($9) who shoots for his third Group 1 win on the trot in the Sir Rupert Clarke and the Chris Waller-trained George Main Stakes winner from last Saturday Sacred Falls ($9) at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Dan Excel meanwhile is also in the first half of the markets at $15, a price that could drift out after his non-inclusion in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes field.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au on all the latest on Dan Excel.
In the meantime get behind your favourites for the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes this AFL Grand Final weekend as well as the futures Cox Plate odds at Ladbrokes.com.au where a limited time only $500 bonus bet is waiting for new customers that quote the code SPRINGBONUS!