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A disappointing last in the Prix Kergorlay over the weekend has seen Ballarat horseman Matt Cumani change spring targets down under for Grey Lion who will travel over for a shot at the 2016 Geelong Cup.
Originally Cumani, who will take over the preparation of the Andre Fabre-trained French galloper in Australia, hoped to have the Galileo stallion in the mix for the $6 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington Racecourse on the first Tuesday of November.
The five-year-old is still on track to travel down under for a raid on the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, but after failing to impress in Sunday’s run at Deauville his Victorian target has been lowered.
Grey Lion, ridden by Pierre-Charles Boudot, finished eight lengths away last behind the winner Nearly Caught in this year’s Group 2 Prix Kergorlay Stakes (2000m) in France.
That has seen Cumani, son of esteemed European trainer Luca Cumani, change spring plans from a shot at the ‘race that stops a nation’ over the two miles on November 1 to an easier assignment on October 19 in the $300,000 Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m).
“The plan is still to definitely come out for the Melbourne Spring, so long as we can get into quarantine, which shouldn’t be a problem, and then we’ll just have an open mind about future races,” Cumani, who is in his first season as a licenced trainer, told Racing Victoria.
“He’s still a very nice horse, incredibly well-bred horse and I think we’ll just have to re-evaluate what type of race he will go for.
“We’ll definitely have to keep in mind though that it looked like the 3000 metres of the Kergorlay was a bit too far, but there might be other factors involved in that, the ground condition wasn’t great at Deauville.”
Cumani is still unsure whether or not Grey Lion has genuine staying ability, the OTI-raced galloper having gone with the leader until the final furlong on Sunday when dropping right out.
“If you look at his pedigree you could make a pretty solid argument that he’s more of an Australian middle-distance type horse, more 2000 to 2400 metres, that sort of area,” Cumani said.
Grey Lion won’t race again before he heads into quarantine on September 15 ahead of his trip to Australia.
“There wouldn’t be time really, we’ll transfer him now over to my father’s yard hopefully as soon as possible, give him a good once over,” he said.
Grey Lion is also nominated for the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 15, four days before the Geelong Cup, and is listed as a $61 shot in pre-field markets for the mile and a half classic at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Cumani’s father Luca has had seven previous Caulfield Cup runners over the years without success, but has had better luck in the iconic Melbourne Cup with two seconds and a third in the world’s richest handicap.
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