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Trainer Peter Moody has described the task of his 2014 Melbourne Cup hope Brambles to win the ‘race that stops the nation’ as “herculean” but knows he has the galloper as fit as he can.
The Savabeel six-year-old was one of 40 second acceptors for this year’s $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on Monday, and one of two in that list for Moody.
Moody has his former Queensland Derby winner Brambles as well as Lidari in the mix for this year’s edition of the world’s richest handicap.
Brambles sits well inside the top 24 in the Melbourne Cup ballot assured of a run as the 19th horse on the ballot pre-announcement that the Gai Waterhouse-trained one-time favourite The Offer (6th) would not be accepted for when the Melbourne Cup field is announced on Saturday afternoon.
Lidari sat 23rd on the ballot and so is also then looking likely of getting a run now 22nd with only a two spot move down the order of entry possible with the winners of Saturday’s Lexus Stakes and Mackinnon Stakes ballot exempt for the Cup.
Moody has both Lidari and Brambles entered for a Victoria Derby Day run this weekend on the opening day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival ahead of the big one next Tuesday, November 4.
Imported acclamation stallion Lidari was runner-up to Lucia Valentina in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) two back before a close sixth just over a length off the Japanese-trained Admire Rakti in the Caulfield Cup on October 18.
He is rated a $34 chance in the Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au now unsurprisingly led by Admire Rakti ($4.80) and is entered for the $300,000 Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) on Saturday.
Brambles meanwhile was third in the Turnbull Stakes and then an eye-catching fourth in the Caulfield Cup last time out, his possible Melbourne Cup lead-up being in the $1 million Group 1 Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m).
Brambles is a$26 shot according to Ladbrokes to win the Melbourne Cup next week, but Moody doesn’t trust his horse will have enough improvement in him to turn the tables on his last start conqueror Admire Rakti.
“He faces a herculean task to try to turn the tables,” Moody told Fox Sports.
That said, Moody said there were plenty of positives including his fitness and ability to possibly set a suitable pace in the Cup.
“He will arrive at the post fit and well and he ran fourth in what is traditionally the best lead-up race,” he said.
“He is quite a bold-going horse and I think we erred by not making the pace in the Caulfield Cup but, at the same time, I want to see him a bit more relaxed to run out the two miles (3200m) of the Melbourne Cup. It is going to be a big task.”
Moody also expressed his dislike of the strong presence of internationally-trained and imported horses stealing Australian racing’s greatest prize and predicted a decade absence of locally-bred Melbourne Cup winners.
“I am not happy about seeing the prizemoney go out of the country but it is what we have to learn to deal with,” he said.
“We have to learn from it and it is probably going to take us the best part of a decade to bounce back and be able to compete with these high-class European stayers.
“We are just starting to see the blood lines now standing at stud in Australia through the likes of Americain and Fiorente and so many more horses. It is going to take a bit of time.”
Following Admire Rakti in the latest Melbourne Cup markets is then German stayer Protectionist ($7) coming off a fast finishing fourth in the Herbert Power Stakes before Kris Lees’ top mare Lucia Valentina ($7.50), beaten favourite when third in the Caulfield Cup, heads the Aussie hopes.
“At the moment they (the internationals) well and truly have the wood on us but the one advantage we have is that we are playing at home,” Moody added.
“I know what a massive task it is and I have great admiration for these horses to come all this way.
“It was only when I was going the other way (with Black Caviar in England) that I realised how hard it is, so they deserve everything they win but let’s hope that is not much.”
Jockey Kerrin McEvoy, who rode 2000 Melbourne Cup winner Brew to victory and gets the chance to do it again with Lucia Valentina, also predicted an international champ this year and rated the favourite as the one to beat in Flemington’s famous Race 7.
“It looks as though it is going to head overseas,” he said.
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