Classy stayer Signoff has ensured a berth in Tuesday’s 2014 Melbourne Cup after displaying a keen turn of foot to take out the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington with ease.
Jumping from the gates well, leading Hong Kong-based jockey Joao Moreira settled Signoff in prime position on the heels of early leaders Shoreham, Thunderbird One and Big Memory, who set a noticeably quick tempo passing the post for the first time and heading onto the back straight.
Settling into an excellent rhythm, Signoff maintained his ideal position as Thunderbird One took up the pace and slowed tempo heading towards the final bend.
As Shoreham pushed forward and took the lead rounding onto the final straight, Signoff steadily spooled up and pressed on, charging to the fore of the pack with 300m to run; maintaining a strong sprint to find the line in the clear of Big Memory; La Amistad running on for third.
Moreira delivered a perfectly-timed ride on Signoff in the 2014 Lexus Stakes and was thrilled to have secured a position in the Melbourne Cup for trainer Darren Weir; a ride he will return to Australian to take on Tuesday.
“Good horses make jockey’s lives easier and he’s one of them, a pleasure to ride another winner,” Moreira said after the race.
“He was quite fired up in the first 400m and then when I got cover behind some other horses he relaxed nicely for me.
“The back straight they stayed up a little bit and if he was pulling hard he was going to make it just hard for himself but actually he wasn’t, he was just travelling nice and kind.
“As the pace started to pick up from the 600 or 700m I was always confident he was going to get there, he was travelling just so sweet.
“Come to the straight he was just so lovely, he just got there easily.”
Trainer Darren Weir was understandably thrilled to secure a Melbourne Cup berth via Signoff’s victory in the 2014 Lexus Stakes and is confident today’s performance will put the four-year-old in good stead for a competitive performance.
“It was a great ride but Jo and hopefully the horse has a good couple of days so we can push on to Tuesday,” Weir said.
“He did a bit of work out of the barrier, I told him to be first four; you know, preferably be off the fence if you can and he made them work to get around him.
“Down on the back there he just popped off the fence and got him in a nice rhythm, and produced him at the right time and the horse was nice and strong through the line.
“It’s just nice to have a horse back in the race, it’s a big thrill for myself and all my staff at home, they do a great job.”
All Melbourne Cup hopefuls contesting the 2014 Lexus Stakes finishing in positions two through tenth have missed qualification for the country’s headline race.
Offered at odds of $17 for success in the Melbourne Cup prior to the Lexus Stakes having cut in from opening odds of $51, Signoff is now outright fourth favourite for success in the Race That Stops a Nation at a quote of $8 with leading online bookie Ladbrokes.com.au.
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2014 Lexus Stakes Results
|1||9||SIGNOFF (IRE)||Darren Weir||Joao Moreira||–||3||56.5kg||$2.45F|
|2||1||BIG MEMORY (FR)||Tony McEvoy||Corey Brown||2.5L||8||58kg||$9|
|3||6||LA AMISTAD||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Dwayne Dunn||4.5L||4||56.5kg||$14|
|4||8||WISH COME TRUE (IRE)||Peter G Moody||Luke Nolen||4.8L||10||56.5kg||$26|
|5||5||LET’S MAKE ADEAL||Nigel Blackiston||Chad Schofield||5.8L||7||56.5kg||$11|
|6||11||LIKE A CAROUSEL||Ken Keys||Craig Newitt||6.8L||6||56.5kg||$15|
|7||4||SHOREHAM||Saab Hasan||Jim Cassidy||7.55L||9||57.5kg||$17|
|8||2||CARAVAN ROLLS ON (GB)||Danny O’Brien||Craig Williams||9.05L||1||58kg||$5.50|
|9||13||MORE THAN SACRED||Robert Smerdon||Glen Boss||14.05L||2||56.5kg||$12|
|10||12||THUNDERBIRD ONE (NZ)||Francis Finnegan||Adam McCabe||34.05L||5||56.5kg||$151|