Kiwi horseman Murray Baker is thrilled with the way his champion four-year-old stayer Mongolian Khan has come through the weekend’s Caulfield Cup success and is confident the horse will go the two miles of the iconic Melbourne Cup 2015 next month.
Shooting to become the first horse since fellow New Zealand-trained star Ethereal (2001) to complete the classic Spring Cups double, the Holy Roman Emperor stallion enjoyed his second Group 1 win down under on Saturday with Opie Bosson guiding him to a half-length victory over European raider Trip To Paris in the $3 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m).
Winner of the ATC Derby over the same distance in Sydney as a three-year-old in the autumn, Mongolian Khan became the first Caulfield Cup favourite to salute for the punters since Master O’Reilly (2007) and with the victory boosted his winnings to over $3.7 million.
His Cambridge-based trainer Baker said Mongolian Khan pulled up well after his Caulfield Cup triumph carrying 55kg and was on track to go the distance in the ‘race that stops a nation’, the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday November 3 his next major target.
“We’ve no doubt he’ll run two miles,” Baker told Racing Ahead on RSN.
“He’s so relaxed.
“He’s usually the last horse to pull up in every race, he gets in that rhythm and keeps going.
“He’s bounced through the run.
“I wouldn’t even think he’s had a race.”
While it was a sad end to last year’s Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti (2014) who broke down in the Melbourne Cup next start, Baker is hoping his galloper can become the first Caulfield Cup – Melbourne Cup double winner since the mighty mare Ethereal (2001).
The last four-year-old Melbourne Cup winner was Shocking (2009) while a New Zealand-trained horse hasn’t won the race since Ethereal’s win as a 9/1 chance carrying just 52kg.
There are officially still 82 Melbourne Cup entries, second acceptances for the world’s richest handicap taken on Monday October 26 before the 24-starter final field is released that Saturday after the Victoria Derby Day action live from Flemington.
Mongolian Khan is currently allocated the same 55kg handicap he carried to victory in the Caulfield Cup, a weight the Gai Waterhouse-trained Fiorente won the 2013 Melbourne Cup with two years ago.
New Zealand hoop Bosson has had two previous rides in the Melbourne Cup without success and will continue his partnership with Mongolian Khan this spring, Baker more than happy with the jockey’s performance in the Caulfield Cup.
“He’s a very good rider, I think he’s shown that in the last week,” Baker said, Bosson having won his past three black-type rides in Australia this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
“He won a Group 3 (Ladies Day Vase on Miss Rose De Lago) for Danny O’Brien, he won the Cup on Saturday, he won the Seymour Cup (aboard Turn Me Loose) yesterday – only three rides in a week, and he’s won three stakes races.
“Rider of the highest calibre – always been troubled by weight problems as a lot of them are, but beautiful hands and a great judge of pace.”
All-in Melbourne Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au is still led by Japan’s Fame Game ($4.80) who ran a credible sixth in the Caulfield Cup in his down under debut, with the step up to 3200m tipped to suit the Heart’s Cry stallion who has winning form up to 3400m.
Caulfield Cup runner-up Trip To Paris is prepared by Ed Dunlop, famous for preparing veteran Red Cadeaux for three Melbourne Cup seconds including behind Protectionist last year, is the next shortest in the Melbourne Cup odds at $7.50 just ahead of Mongolian Khan ($8.50).
Post-Melbourne Cup Baker is keeping his options open with dual Derby winner Mongolian Khan, who also won the NZ Derby back home last season, with a possible Hong Kong Vase target supported by the horse’s owner Lang Li, aka Mr Wolf.
“Mr Wolf’s got a few friends who want to get involved up there, and good luck to them,” Baker said of the Chinese businessman.
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