Adding to the woes of British trainer Andrew Balding this week the 2014 Melbourne Cup dream is over for his Ebor Handicap runner-up Lord Van Percy who has been scratched from today’s Lexus Stakes.
On Thursday Balding found his reigning Mackinnon Stakes winner Side Glance to be lame and had to withdraw the galloper from a title defense in the $1 million showdown at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day.
Now he will also be without his sole entry for the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Sir Percy gelding Lord Van Percy debuted down under on October 11 when fifth behind Big Memory, a $7 chance for the Lexus Stakes through Ladbrokes.com.au, in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield.
The five-year-old was then accepted for his maiden Flemington run in today’s $300,000 Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m), the winner of which is exempt from Melbourne Cup ballot.
Sitting 29th on the Melbourne Cup order of entry after the withdrawal of the Robert Hickmott-trained Green Moon from the ‘race that stops a nation’ due to a cracked hoof, Lord Van Percy needed the Lexus win to make the final 24 in the world’s richest handicap.
He was a late scratching from the Lexus Stakes field however on vet’s advice after being well-backed through Ladbrokes.com.au paying around $5.50 at the time of withdrawal.
The Lexus Stakes originally drew a field of 13 hopefuls but there have been two other scratchings since leaving 11 to face off.
The Ciaron Maher-trained Marksmanship, 32nd on the Melbourne Cup ballot, also came out after the seven-year-old was found to have filling in his fetlock.
There is still a chance the Galileo stallion, last seen running a brave second to Caravan Rolls On in the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2200m) on October 22, will be right in time for a consolation run in the $350,000 Group 2 Zipping Classic (2400m) at Sandown on November 15.
The 2014 Zipping Classic is also the hopeful ‘Plan B’ for Side Glance before the raider heads to Hong Kong for the International Race Day in December where he will target either the Hong Kong Vase or Hong Kong Cup.
Also out of the Lexus this morning was the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Unchain My Heart.
A roughie shot for the Melbourne Cup, the veteran eight-year-old mare moved up to 23rd on the order of entry with Green Moon coming out, with connections opting to roll the dice and take her out of the Lexus Stakes.
A number of scenarios however will see her pushed out of the Lexus Stakes field including if the Robert Hickmott-trained Amralah runs top three in the Mackinnon Stakes (Race 6).
Saab Hassan’s Reset gelding Shoreham can also leapfrog Unchain My Heart either by winning the ballot exemption or running second or third in the Lexus that will take his prize money earned above the mare’s.
Hayes however would prefer to run the gauntlet and give the mare the time between runs she needs to be competitive in the Melbourne Cup should she make the cut.
“I reckon if she ran today it would not enhance her chances for the Cup, knowing her it wouldn’t help,” he told AAP.
“She’s a filly that likes her races more spaced than three days.”
To back your early Melbourne Cup tips at the best prices make sure you head to Ladbrokes.com.au – home of Tuesday’s $10 million Megafecta!