European stayer Lord Van Percy must win the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington this Saturday to have any hope of making the field for the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) three days later on Tuesday, November 4.
29th in the Melbourne Cup order of entry, it is highly unlikely Lord Van Percy will qualify for ‘the race that stops the nation’. Unless he wins the Lexus Stakes that is, seeing as the winner is exempt from the ballot, earning an automatic start to next Tuesday’s race.
European stayers are not known for racing twice in the space of three days and Lord Van Percy will be having his third start in just 24 days if he runs in the 2014 Melbourne Cup.
While trainer Andrew Balding said it’s rare for European stayers to race within three weeks of their last run, he isn’t fazed about the prospect of backing-up from the Lexus Stakes to the Melbourne Cup.
“We might back-up the sprinters a little bit quicker but the European approach with stayers is to give them three weeks between runs,” Balding told Sky Racing.
“But having said that he’s not a typical stayer.
“He’s a close-coupled horse, he’s a little smaller than your average European stayer and I think that’s to our advantage if you’re looking to back-up.”
Lord Van Percy made his Australian debut on October 11 in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m). He finished fifth to Big Memory in a run that saw him come from third last before getting mobile at the bend and in the straight before hitting the line well.
Balding was thrilled with the condition of the five-year-old gelding, having not seen him since leaving Newmarket after quarantine at the end of September.
“He had the run in the Herbert Power but I was amazed when I saw him out here,” Balding said.
“He’s in great condition in his coat and physically and mentally he looks in a great place.
“I’m looking forward to a good showing from him.”
Lord Van Percy is currently a $7 shot in the Lexus Stakes betting market at Ladbrokes.com.au, which is led by Darren Weir’s Signoff ($2.70) who beat Lord Van Percy home in the Herbert Power for runner-up.
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