Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
Kiwi trainer John Wheeler has confirmed the 2017 Melbourne Cup as the long-term spring goal for his proven stayer Pentathlon who kicks things off at Flemington in the Group 3 $300,000 The Bart Cummings (2500m) on Saturday.
Flemington Racecourse will come to life for Turnbull Stakes Day thanks to the appearance of champion mare Winx in the day’s Group 1 feature.
Also on the card is The Bart Cummings, the winner of which is exempt from ballot for the iconic Group 1 $6 million Melbourne Cup (3200m) back at the track on Tuesday November 7.
Last spring the Lloyd Williams-raced Almandin completed The Bart Cummings – Melbourne Cup double, giving New Plymouth-based Wheeler hope for his contender this season.
“His first race will be The Bart Cummings this Saturday at Flemington and after that I won’t be sure until I see how everything works out,” Wheeler told the New Zealand Racing Desk.
“Obviously the long-term goal is the Melbourne Cup.
“He will have to win a race beforehand to get in, but what happens between now and then I don’t know.”
Pentire gelding Pentathlon raced in the same spring lead-up last year finishing seventh behind Almandin before a Moonee Valley Cup third and Lexus Stakes seventh lead him to the ‘race that stops a nation’.
The galloper jumped a $101 roughie in Melbourne Cup betting and finished just over nine lengths back for ninth.
It has been a long time between drinks for Pentathlon who hasn’t won a race since success over the two miles back home in December of 2015.
His last run down under produced a second last (13th) to Polarisation in April’s Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m), while his latest lead-up was a fourth over 2000m at Hastings on September 23.
That followed on from a first-up last (11th) over the mile, which Wheeler was still pleased with considering the unsuitable distance and the fact his horse was beaten under six lengths in both it and his second run over the Hawke’s Bay Spring Carnival.
“They were outstanding runs,” he said.
“They were both on tracks that didn’t suit him and he sat three-wide all the way in his last race over 2000m and finished it off really well.
“He was always going [to Melbourne], provided I was happy with him and I am.”
The recent form may be poor, but Wheeler isn’t giving up just yet believing the six-year-old capable of bouncing back.
“If he wins The Bart Cummings he gets in straight away and he has got the Lexus Stakes on the Saturday [before the Melbourne Cup],” Wheeler said.
“I’m happy to back him up in the Melbourne Cup after the Lexus Stakes, I did it last year and he went well in both races.”
Currently Pentathlon sits in equal 61st on the Melbourne Cup order of entry with 50.5kg.
He has also been dismissed by the bookies at a blowout price of $410 in pre-field Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au.
All of that could change however should the New Zealander put in a shock run in The Bart Cummings this weekend getting in on 54kg with reigning champion Almandin the 60kg top weight.
To back Pentathlon at a juicy price down under this spring visit Ladbrokes.com.au.
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