Brazilian-bred, Hong Kong-based super hoop Joao Moreira has described the Melbourne Cup 2014 as the one race he wants to win and if Signoff can make the field he could be in with a shot at the ‘Loving Trophy’ next Tuesday.
Moreira, who flies in from Hong Kong on race day morning, has secured rides in eight of the nine Flemington races on the Victoria Derby Day program this weekend including in all four of the Group 1s on the card.
“I’ve got four very good rides in the Group 1 races. In fact, I’m hoping to get a near full book by the time acceptances are taken,” he told The Age on Tuesday.
“I’ve got some very good rides for some very good stables so it should be a great day at Flemington.”
But it is the Darren Weir-trained Signoff he’s especially keen to see win this weekend when the progressive stayer vies for a Melbourne Cup ballot exemption in the $300,000 Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m).
The Authorized gelding has had two close calls at Caulfield in October with a second to Big Memory in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) and a third to Contributer in the Group 3 David Jones Cup (2000m) on Caulfield Cup Day.
Now he heads to Flemington for just the second time in an eleventh hour bid to move up the order of entry and make the capacity 24 starter field for next Tuesday’s coveted $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) back at the track.
Signoff currently sits 36th on the Melbourne Cup ballot with just 50kg and so Saturday’s Lexus Stakes is do-or-die for the five-year-old.
Moreira replaces Glen Boss in the saddle, Boss aboard Lexus Stakes rival More Than Sacred for Robert Smerdon, and will be fighting like his Melbourne Cup ride depended on it – which it does.
“If Signoff can win the Lexus, I’ll be back in Melbourne on Tuesday to ride him and it will be a dream of a lifetime to just be in the race,” he said.
“I’ve read so much about the Melbourne Cup over the years and it’s one race I want to win.
“I’ll go home on Saturday night, ride at Sha Tin on Sunday, and then I’m back on Tuesday hopefully, to ride in the Cup.”
Despite not being assured of a run, Signoff is being kept safe in Melbourne Cup betting by the bookies paying $26 in the markets led by Japanese-trained Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti ($4.80).
The light weight certainly works to Signoff’s advantage as he’ll meet the favourite Admire Rakti 8.5kg better with the top fancy carrying the top weight.
One man who Signoff has taken the eye of is rival owner Lloyd Williams, the four-time Melbourne Cup winning head of Macedon Lodge confident the local hopes can upset the contingent of well-fancied internationals in this year’s race.
Williams said the fact that all one, dual Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux, of the 11 remaining international Melbourne Cup horses come into the race without Group 1 form making them vulnerable to the light weights especially Signoff next Tuesday.
“I like him, he’s a nice stayer and he’s the sort of horse who could win on Saturday and go straight through and win a Melbourne Cup,” Williams said of Signoff.
“Maluckyday, who won the Lexus three (sic) years ago, ran into one of the toughest (Melbourne) Cup fields in recent times (when runner-up to Americain in 2010), but Signoff won’t have that problem.”
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