Godolphin’s British horseman Saeed Bin Suroor has only one confirmed 2015 Melbourne Cup starter for the first Tuesday of November with Sky Hunter guaranteed a run in the ‘race that stops a nation’ sitting 17th on the order of entry.
Bin Suroor has to date saddled-up 20 runners in the world’s richest handicap for three seconds and a third in the famous Flemington feature of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
This year the Newmarket-based trainer has three of the 42 second acceptors for the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) run over the two miles on November 3rd.
Motivator gelding Sky Hunter however is the only one of the trio guaranteed a spot in the capacity 24-starter Melbourne Cup field that is released along with the barrier draw on Saturday afternoon after the Victoria Derby Day racing action.
A winner of six of his 11 starts to date including the Group 2 City of Dubai Gold cup two back over the mile and a half, Sky Hunter is 17th on the Melbourne Cup order of entry and will go straight to the Melbourne Cup without a lead-up run down under.
Allocated 54kg, an exact weight not carried by a Melbourne Cup winner since Tawrrific (1989), the six-year-old only has winning form up to 2418m and is a $26 chance in the all-in Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au – who are giving away a 2015 Ford 4×4 Ranger to a lucky Melbourne Cup punter!
William Buick is confirmed as the Melbourne Cup jockey on Sky Hunter, the hoop having had two previous runs in the world’s richest handicap.
Twenty-seventh on the Melbourne Cup ballot is Bin Suroor’s in-form Raven’s Pass stallion Secret Number who was last seen winning in black-type company over 2475m in September.
A $51 outsider in futures Melbourne Cup betting, Secret Number is a 52.5kg lightweight hope and connections are rolling the dice opting not to give him a Derby Day run to try and secure a spot in the field.
Instead, not wanting to run the big galloper twice in three days down under, they will hope for a high enough attrition rate for Secret Number to sneak into the Melbourne Cup line-up this spring.
“They were thinking about running him on Saturday in either the Mackinnon (Stakes) or the Lexus (Stakes) but they’ve decided now to roll the dice,” Racing Victoria’s international scout Leigh Jordon said.
“He’s such a big horse (they think backing him up) is probably not the way to go.”
Bin Suroor isn’t willing to take the same chance with Elhaame however who is equal 37th on the order of entry allocated just 50kg for the two mile classic next week.
Racing as a six-year-old in Australia, the horse has won three of his past four runs back home and needs to win Saturday’s $300,000 Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at earn a Melbourne Cup ballot exemption.
“Elhaame is going to the Lexus, he needs to win that obviously to get in because he’s not even passed the ballot,” Jordon said.
“(I’ve) been impressed with him, he’s had some very good gallops and I think the camp is quietly confident.”
He is one of 13 Lexus Stakes hopes on the weekend and jumps from gate four for his Australian race debut with Brad Rawiller in the saddle on 56kg.
The Lexus Stakes field also features the likes of the Gai Waterhouse-trained Herbert Power Stakes runner-up Excess Knowledge, stablemate Bohemian Lily who comes off a Moonee Valley Gold Cup third from last weekend having also run third in the Herbert Power and The Metropolitan third placegetter Havana Cooler for John O’Shea.
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