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A Geelong Cup win last time out and good light weight for the Melbourne Cup 2015 are two big ticks for in-form import Almoonqith according to his co-trainer David Hayes.
Hall of Famer Hayes and his nephew Tom Dabernig have two of the 42 second acceptances for the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) this spring, the two mile classic running as Flemington Race 7 on Tuesday November 3.
The best fancied of the Lindsay Park duo in the mix for the ‘race that stops a nation’ is four-time Group 1 winner Criterion ($15) who ran a luckless second behind Chris Waller’s freakish tearaway winner Winx in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at weight-for-age last Saturday at Moonee Valley.
Also set for a Melbourne Cup run for the stable is $17 hope in the latest odds at Ladbrokes.com.au, who are running Best Tote or SP + 20% on Races 1 – 4 at Flemington on Cup Day, is Dyanformer stallion Almoonqith.
The imported six-year-old has had just the five runs down under and broke his maiden status in Oz last start on October 21 winning the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) by one and three quarter lengths over Dandino earning a 1kg Melbourne Cup penalty.
He didn’t deserve to win that easily by that much of a margin after being slow out of the gates, but Sydney-based jockey James McDonald gave him a charmed ride and Almoonqith raced into Melbourne Cup calculations.
The Geelong Cup form has more than held up in the world’s richest handicap in recent years with the most recent Melbourne Cup winners to back straight up out of the Group 3 being the French-trained duo Americain (2010) and Dunaden (2011) who both completed the double.
Bauer also came close in 208 when defeated only a short half-head by the Bart Cummings-trained Viewed in the Melbourne Cup on the back of a Geelong Cup victory.
This is form Hayes pointed to when discussing the Melbourne Cup claims of Almoonqith after the galloper worked on the course proper at Flemington over 1600m in a strong piece of work that included a final 400m sectional time of 24.66 seconds.
“Dwayne Dunn rode him this morning,” Hayes said.
“He was thrilled to be on him and said he gave him a great feel.
“He profiles very similar to a Media Puzzle or Americain. Bauer went very close. Dunaden was in the race (Geelong Cup) and won it.
“He was as impressive as they were. He’s on the minimum, it is a handicap and he has improved from Geelong.
“I wouldn’t swap my two for many in the race.”
Almoonqith carried 55.5kg to victory in the Geelong Cup and even with his penalty gets into the Melbourne Cup on 53kg, a weight Viewed had on his back for his success in ’08.
Criterion meanwhile is allocated 57.5kg, but is set to run very well over the 3200m as past Cox Plate graduates to win the Melbourne Cup Jeune (1994) and Saintly (1996) did.
“Jeune ran 13th in the Cox Plate and this horse should have been beaten a length from one of the best performances seen,” Hayes said.
“He’s obviously very fit and the way he’s pulled-up, he’s invited himself in.
“He’ll show an even better turn of foot at two miles, like Jeune and Saintly did.”
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