Despite the likelihood of a firm Flemington track for the 2014 Melbourne Cup next Tuesday, Australian connections of the OTI Racing-owned, John Gosden-trained UK raider Gatewood are confident the stallion can make an impact in the ‘race that stops a nation’.
There are still officially 38 horses heading towards a run in the capacity 24-starter field for this year’s $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) that is set to run as Flemington Race 7 on November 4.
Among those entries are 11 internationals including Gatewood who sits 15th on the latest Melbourne Cup order of entry with 55kg.
The Galileo seven-year-old has raced in two carnivals down under, bought over for the 2012 Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival and staying on with Chris Waller for the autumn in Sydney last year before moving back to Gosden’s Newmarket base.
Two years ago Gatewood debuted down under with a seventh in the Herbert Power Stakes, on the back of a second in the Group 2 Prix de Deauville (2500m) in France, but improved next time out.
He won the Geelong Cup but then finished sixth in the Lexus Stakes on Victoria Derby Day and so missed out on a run in the world’s richest handicap.
His form from last autumn was only average too but since going back to the UK he’s been a far better horse on softer tracks including the Group 3 Prix De Reux (2500m) win on a Heavy track at Deauville on August 10.
“If you look at his form, we just haven’t put him out on a hard track for the last 18 months,” OTI co-founder Terry Henderson told Racenet this week.
Last time out the UK stayer was a narrow second in the Group 2 Prix De Deauville Lucien Barriere (2500m) on August 31 and will go straight into the Melbourne Cup field without a previous run in Australia this time in.
Connections have tossed up running him in the lead-up to the ‘race that stops a nation’ on a number of occasions but, not wanting to push or injure the horse, have kept him off the firmer tracks.
“John Gosden is a very good trainer, a very patient trainer so we have scratched him a couple of times, thinking ‘he’s such a nice horse, let’s not take a risk with him’”, Henderson explained.
Despite this Gatewood boasts a commanding record on Good-rated ground (14-4-5-1) and there’s no concern from his camp that Melbourne Cup Day will be too firm for him to be competitive before being sent out for a spell.
“He’ll race all right on it but he pulls up jarry,” Henderson said.
“He’ll go for a break after the Melbourne Cup because he’ll go straight back to England and won’t run for a while.”
Gatewood showed he was tracking well for his first Melbourne Cup run with a nice piece of work at Werribee on Thursday morning, pulling up in top condition.
His regular rider back in Britain William Buick will be travelling to Melbourne for the ride in the prestigious staying showdown next Tuesday, his second shot at the ‘Loving Trophy’.
The latest Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have Japanese-trained Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti as the $4.80 top fancy.
Gatewood meanwhile can be found a fair bit further down the Melbourne Cup betting markets at $51, equal with 2012 Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon and the Waller-trained Sydney Cup runner-up over the two miles Opinion.
OTI have a further four Melbourne Cup chances this spring.
Their other hopes are the Peter Moody-trained duo of Brambles ($26) and Lidari ($34) who ran fourth and sixth respectively in the Caulfield Cup last time out, along with the Andre Fabre-trained French raider Au Revoir ($41) coming off a Moonee Valley Gold Cup and Lord Van Percy ($34).
Andrew Balding’s UK visitor Lord Van Percy is the only one of the contingent sweating on a start sitting 30th on the order of entry with 52.5kg.
The Herbert Power Stakes fifth placed Sir Percy gelding races in Saturday’s $300,000 Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) for the Melbourne Cup ballot exemption on offer to the winner.
To check out the full futures Melbourne Cup prices open on the hopeful stayers visit Ladbrokes.com.au where this Cup Day you could turn $1 into $10 million with the MegaFecta!