Jockey Michael Walker was rewarded for his decision to ride 2016 Melbourne Cup bound Almoonqith in a Tuesday morning trial instead of riding at Pakenham throughout the day.
Walker turned down rides at Racing.com Park on Tuesday in favour of partnering the Lindsay Park-trained Almoonqith in the opening heat at Tatura that morning.
The Dynaformer stallion gave Walker exactly what he’d been hoping for finishing only a length away second behind the Tony McEvoy-trained fellow Spring Cups hopeful Alpine Eagle over 1400m in the trial.
“[Almoonqith’s] aim is obviously the Melbourne Cup again, so I’d like to go to the trials and get a feel of him, and just make sure he is spot on,” Walker told Racing Victoria on Monday.
The imported stayer won last October’s Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) before a disappointing 18th behind the Darren Weir-trained Prince Of Penzance in the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Almoonqith atoned for the unplaced Melbourne Cup result winning the Listed Sandown Cup (3200m) over the two miles a fortnight later defeating the 2014 Sydney Cup winner The Offer.
The now seven-year-old failed to reach the same heights in the autumn with four unplaced runs, Walker in the saddle for two including the sixth behind Preferment in the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) in Sydney.
The galloper’s most recent run was at Royal Randwick on April 9 when crossing seven lengths away fifth to Gallante in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) with Hugh Bowman in the saddle.
Walker has had two rides in the ‘race that stops a nation’ including his Melbourne Cup third aboard Criterion last spring and is will be aboard for the November 1 ride on Almoonqith this carnival.
“He’s got a good long campaign ahead of him, and he’s a horse that for his first couple of runs, he’s always big in condition being a stallion,” he said.
“I’ve galloped him, and I rode him in a jump out at Flemington, and he just plodded around.
“He’s still very big in condition, but it’s not until the first Tuesday in November, so I don’t want him rock hard fit yet.”
Walker’s first spring ride on Almoonqith is scheduled for August 27 at Caulfield Racecourse when the entire resumes racing in the $120,000 Listed Heatherlie Stakes (1700m).
“Unfortunately I missed riding him in the Sydney Cup [last year] due to injury,” Walker said.
“He’s come up really well, he feels good. If anything he’s bigger and stronger so I’m looking forward to him.
“He’s a cool horse, I love riding him.”
The latest all-in Melbourne Cup betting odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have Almoonqith installed as a $41 shot, an equal price with Tuesday morning’s trial winner Alpine Eagle.
Check out the full Melbourne Cup 2016 markets online now at Ladbrokes.com.au – home of Odds Boost (T&Cs apply).