Last year he won the ‘race that stops a nation’ with a $101 roughie and for the 2016 Melbourne Cup Darren Weir has Prince Of Penzance and Signoff earmarked as his two best hopes for the famous Flemington feature.
Prince Of Penzance scored one of the biggest upset Melbourne Cup results in history last November, jockey Michelle Payne making history as the first woman rider to win the world’s richest handicap aboard Weir’s Pentire gelding Prince Of Penzance.
Payne, who subsequently suffered a horror race fall and is looking at retiring from riding, partnered the now seven-year-old for a smart 800m Ballarat gallop this week ahead of the stayer’s return to racing next month.
Last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival Prince Of Penzance kicked things off in the Group 1 Memise Stakes (1400m) when eighth to Boban in August before a fifth at Ballarat in the Gold Nugget (1600m) fifth in Moonee Valley’s Group 3 JRA Cup (2040m), eighth in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield and second in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Cup (2500m) leading up to his run on the first Tuesday of November.
This year Weir has a later return scheduled at Flemington in the $500,000 Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) on September 10, telling the Herald Sun on Monday Prince Of Penzance looked as good as he did this time last season.
“He’s very sound and he’s a very happy horse. He’s in good shape,” Weir said.
“Last year he had a great preparation and nothing went wrong. He was able to do all the work leading into a Melbourne Cup without a problem.
“It’s going to be hard for that to happen again and the likelihood is that he won’t have a trouble- free preparation.”
Another smart galloper at Ballarat for the stable this week, Signoff is also set to resume in the 2016 Makybe Diva Stakes as he heads towards a run in the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) alongside his stablemate in the lucrative two mile classic.
Authorized seven-year-old Signoff was last seen racing at Morphettville on March 5 where he won the Group 3 Lord Reims Stakes (2600m).
The gelding won the 2014 Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) on Victoria Derby Day earning a return to the track just three days later for his brave fourth to Protectionist in the 2014 Melbourne Cup.
Signoff has raced just four times since and Weir is confident he’s on track for a second Melbourne Cup bid this spring along with the defending champ and possibly Irish import Tall Ship who won the Werribee Cup last December.
“I’m happy with him, but he’s a big, gross horse who will need the work,” Weir said of Signoff.
Prince Of Penzance pays around $34 in futures Melbourne Cup betting while Signoff is shorter in all-in markets at $17 and Tall Ship the roughie of the Weir trio at $67.
The 2016 Melbourne Cup nominations close on August 30 making now the time to back your early favourites online at Ladbrokes.com.au!