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To earn his place in the Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) field, Signoff had to run in and win the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) on Saturday.
The four-year-old gelding did just that, cruising home to victory 2½ lengths ahead of Big Memory in second place. He was on the inside early but allowed the speed to find the front. After ranging up to the leaders at the 400m, he drew clear for an impressive win.
The catch 22 of the Lexus Stakes run is that while it is necessary to make the field for the Melbourne Cup, the winner runs the risk of not pulling through well enough to be a contender. With just three days between the two races, there is not much time to recover.
Shocking (2009) is the only horse to have backed up from the Lexus Stakes and go on to win the Melbourne Cup. However, Signoff’s trainer Darren Weir couldn’t be happier with the condition of the gelding heading into this afternoon’s $6.2 million feature race.
The trainer told Racing Victoria that he was pleased with how Signoff pulled up after the win, and that the quick back-up should not be an issue.
“He pulled up really well in the wind after the race and recovered really quickly so if he was ever going to pull-up well out of a race and back-up on the Tuesday it was after that sort of run,” Weir said.
“Everything went perfectly for him so it probably wasn’t that hard of a run and he sprinted really well over the last 600 metres.”
Signoff will have international superstar hoop Joao Moreira in the saddle once again, though he has already advised Weir he cannot strip down to the 51kg allocated to Signoff in the 2014 Melbourne Cup, which means the gelding will no longer be the lightest horse on the field.
“Joao said he would be better off if he could ride at 51.5kg than 51 and that’s what the owners went with,” Weir said.
“Obviously his record speaks for itself, he’s one of the best jockeys in the world and his ride on Saturday was perfect but I just hope he doesn’t get beaten by a nose!”
Still seven kilos lighter than the topweight Admire Rakti, Signoff will look to go forward in the 2014 Melbourne Cup and use his light weight to his advantage.
“The barrier is not ideal but I think he’ll roll forward and be in the first half-a-dozen and try to rule out any bad luck,” the trainer concluded.
Signoff has seen plenty of money come in for him in the Melbourne Cup betting market, the gelding is currently paying $8.50 at Ladbrokes.com.au on the fourth line of betting.
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