Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
Luckless staying import Vengeur Masque is targeting the 2017 Melbourne Cup this spring via a hopeful Caulfield Cup run after missing out on the ‘race that stops a nation’ by one spot last season.
The Monsun gelding finished No. 25 on the Melbourne Cup ballot in 2016, just failing to gain a run in the capacity 24-starter field for the two mile classic.
His Flemington-based trainer Michael Moroney is hopeful it will be second time lucky this time in with ambitious plans to again target the Group 1 $6 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) with the more mature French expat on the first Tuesday of November.
“We’d love to get him into a Melbourne Cup especially this spring as he’s now matured and is at the right age,” Moroney told Racing Victoria this week.
Firstly the six-year-old will shoot for a spot in the Group 1 $3 million BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 21, the first leg of the coveted Spring Cups double, racing in this weekend’s Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield Racecourse.
The Naturalism Stakes winner is exempt from Caulfield Cup ballot and Vengeur Masque needs to win on Saturday currently sitting well down the order of entry for next month’s event on equal 84th spot with 50kg.
The horse made the Caulfield Cup field last season and was far from disgraced racing better than his $101 odds for an eighth place finish after making up ground from the back of the field behind the winner Jameka.
After missing the Melbourne Cup he chased the consolation bonus on Emirates Stakes Day at Flemington in the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m), but was second home beaten 10 lengths by the runaway Charlie Appleby-trained winner Francis Of Assisi.
Vengeur Masque remains a maiden in Australia and hasn’t won a race since June of 2015, but Moroney remains confident that will change this campaign.
“He spelled really well and he’s come back really big and strong this time so he’s finally matured,” Moroney said.
Runner-up to late winner Tally in March when defeated by the barest of margins in the Listed Mornington Cup (2400m), the horse returned to racing on September 9 lining-up in the Listed Heatherlie Handicap (1700m) at Caulfield.
There he finished three and three-quarters back ninth behind Hell Or Highwater after a tough run from the outside barrier (15 of 15).
In the Naturalism Stakes on Saturday he returns to the Caulfield track and will jump from barrier 11 (of 16) with Patrick Moloney retaining the ride.
“First we’re trying to get him into the Caulfield Cup and that hasn’t been made easier by the barrier draw for this Saturday,” Moroney said.
“He had to go right back last start and we have to ride him quiet again, which is going to make it tough for him but I’m really happy with the way he’s going and if the race presents, he can certainly win it.”
The latest Naturalism Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have Vengeur Masque installed as a $21 roughie with markets led by the Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained last start Moonee Valley winner Stampede ($4.60).
Futures Caulfield Cup betting have him at another triple-figure quote of $101, while all-in Melbourne Cup odds online are also sitting at $101 for Vengeur Masque to win.
He is bred for Melbourne Cup success however being a son of Monson who has sired three of the latest four Melbourne Cup winners: Almandin (2016), Protectionist (2014) and Fiorente (2013).
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