Young Victorian hoop Harry Coffey has been confirmed as the early Melbourne Cup 2016 jockey for the Darren Weir-trained Signoff by connections of the stayer if he makes it into the field for the ‘race that stops a nation’ this spring.
Weir won last year’s $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) with 101/1 roughie Prince Of Penzance and will return for a second shot at the world’s richest racehorse with the defending champ as well as the 2014 fourth placegetter Signoff.
Both seven-year-olds are down to kick off their Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival bids on September 10 at Flemington Racecourse in the $500,000 Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m), a mile showdown named in honour of triple Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva.
Irish-bred Authorized gelding Signoff and stablemate Prince Of Penzance both worked well in a Ballarat gallop this week, Weir naming them as his top two hopes for this season’s Melbourne Cup over the two miles on Tuesday November 1.
The duo also both had their latest runs in Adelaide.
Prince Of Penzance ran a close second to Tonopah in the Group 3 RA Lee Stakes (1600m) in May while Signoff last raced on March 5 winning Morphettville’s Group 3 Lord Reims Stakes (2600m) as the odds-on favourite.
Coffey was aboard for that Group 3 win as well as the galloper’s two other most recent runs.
The first was a Boxing Day win in the Listed Lord Stakes (1700m) at Caulfield, which Signoff was later disqualified from due to returning a positive test for Ibuprofen, and the second was on February 19 when runner-up by the barest of margins behind Swacadelic in the Listed Torney Cup (2500m) at Moonee Valley.
He has this week been named by signoff’s owner Gerry Ryan as the No. 1 choice to stick with the horse for the Melbourne Cup 2016, less than a month after Coffey turns just 21-years-old.
Since Signoff ran fourth to Protectionist in the Melbourne Cup two years ago, the horse has been kept to just four runs due to a tendon injury and the Ibuprofen disqualification.
Ryan though is confident the lightly-raced veteran is back to his best form and can make the Melbourne Cup field and finish in the money this season.
“Signoff is heading for the Melbourne Cup,” Ryan told Racing Ahead on RSN.
“He’s in very good condition, the trainer’s very happy, so hopefully the journey can continue.
“Harry’s on, he’s planted firmly on the horse. That would be a great story.
“He’s a quality young man, and looking forward to him getting his first Melbourne Cup.
“I spoke to him a few days ago after he rode the horse, and he gave me an update.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Harry in the mounting yard on the first Tuesday in November.”
Kerrin McEvoy won the 2000 Melbourne Cup as a 20-year-old aboard the Michael Moroney-trained Brew, and if successful Coffey would be the youngest winning hoop in the classic since.
He has had just two Group 1 rides so far when last (16th) on Arcadia Dream in the Group 1 SA Derby (2500m) in mid-May and 12th on Griante in February’s Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m).
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