James & Bart Cummings’ veteran stayer Precedence will shoot for a third Moonee Valley Cup win in 2014 when he lines up in the Cox Plate Day classic for the fourth time.
A bumper 23 gallopers are nominated for this year’s $250,000 Racing.com Cup (2500m) including Team Cummings’ Zabeel nine-year-old Precedence who first contested the set weights plus penalties showdown in 2010.
That year he won with Blake Shinn in the saddle only to return two years later to run fourth in the 2012 edition behind Vatuvei.
Precedence was back to become a dual winner last year however with Craig Williams guiding the old warhorse to victory, a race he backed up from to narrowly win the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) at Flemington on Emirates Stakes Day.
He hasn’t won a race since however, but was close when runner-up in the Group 3 Premier’s Cup (2200m) behind Zephyron during the winter.
This time in Precedence has had two unplaced runs the most recent of which was a fifth behind 2014 Cox Plate runner The Cleaner in the Group 3 JRA Cup (2040m) on September 26.
He returns to Moonee Valley this Saturday then with a 50% strike rate at the track (10-5-0-0) on the notoriously tricky circuit.
Connections are hoping he can bounce back and enter the history books by bringing home a third Moonee Valley Cup trophy by defeating some stiff competition.
If successful Precedence’s prize money will exceed $2 million, and owner Dato Tan Chin Nam’s Australian racing manager Duncan Ramage rates the galloper as good as ever.
“He is in fine shape to defend his title,” Ramage told AAP this week.
“He is nine but it is a testament to his fortitude that he is still racing as well as he is.
“He is sound and his last start effort shows how well he is going.”
The only horses rated higher than Precedence in the Moonee Valley Cup entries are the Robert Hickmott-trained duo of Sea Moon and Green Moon who ran dead last (18th) and ninth respectively behind Japanese raider Admire Rakti in last weekend’s Caulfield Cup.
Hickmott’s hopes are expected to be non-acceptors when the Moonee Valley Cup field is released on Wednesday morning however.
The stable could still be represented on race day though by French import Amralah in his Australian debut and Massiyn who was a disappointing 10th to stable mate Fawkner, favourite for the Cox Plate on Saturday, in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on October 11.
Other notable nominees meanwhile include Chris Waller’s The Metropolitan runner-up Opinion who was also runner-up to The Offer in the Sydney Cup earlier this year, UK raider Lord Van Percy who was runner-up in the Ebor Handicap two back at York and Andre Fabre’s French visitor Au Revoir.
Following the Moonee Valley Cup plans are to continue with Precedence onto the ‘race that stops a nation’ after he was balloted out of the $6.2 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) 12 months ago.
Until last year Precedence had run in three straight Melbourne Cups running eighth to Americain in 2010, 11th to Dunaden in 2011 and ninth to Green Moon in 2012.
This year he is currently sitting 25th on the Melbourne Cup order of entry and so looks all but assured of a run in the capacity 24-starter field for the world’s richest handicap.
“Should he gain a start in the Melbourne Cup, he will run,” Ramage confirmed.
Bart Cummings has won a record 12 Melbourne Cups but none since Viewed (2008), Precedence the sole chance for the ‘Cups King’ in 2014.
In the latest Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au Precedence is rated a $101 roughie.
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