A capacity field of 14 runners plus three emergencies featured in the Listed Mornington Cup (2400m) final field this morning (Wednesday), including the Tony McEvoy-trained Big Memory.
The five-year-old gelding will be in search of much more than the $210,000 prize for the winner this Saturday, as McEvoy has big plans for Big Memory.
A win in the 2015 Mornington Cup would earn the gelding a ballot exemption from the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) during the spring and likely earn him a place in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) field on April 11, which is his autumn goal.
“I wanted to go through the Melbourne program which I thought suited him better to get to the Sydney Cup,” McEvoy told Sky Racing.
“The Sydney Cup has been his goal all the way along and the Mornington Cup route was the best one I thought for him.”
Big Memory earned a place in the 2014 Caulfield Cup field after winning the Group 2 Herbert Power (2400m) on October 11 but finished midfield in 10th place, just three lengths behind winner Admire Rakti.
The gelding missed out on a place in the Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) by one spot in the order of entry but went on to earn placings in both the Group 1 Lexus Stakes (2500m) and Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m).
Following a 12 week spell, Big Memory resumed for fourth place in the Group 3 Carlyon Cup (1600m) on February 14, just half a length behind winner Smokin’ Joey, then earned a minor placing in the Listed Mornington Cup Prelude (2000m) two weeks later.
McEvoy was impressed with both runs but not with his second-last finish in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) on March 14.
“His first two runs were fantastic and I was disappointed with his last start,” McEvoy said.
“Where I was disappointed, from the 450 (metres) to the 250 (metres) he had an opportunity to make ground and he didn’t. Then when Mark Zahra thought he was about to build momentum the run closed.
“So it was a bit of a confusing run. Mark Zahra was not disappointed, but I was.”
Here’s hoping the Australian Cup result is not a sign of things to come in the 2015 Mornington Cup as Big Memory has once again drawn the second-widest gate.
Mark Zahra will return to the saddle and the pair enjoyed a nice gallop on Tuesday morning.
“He galloped nicely, his action was good. He’s fit and happy,” McEvoy said.
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