WINSLOW trainer Ciaron Maher and the south-west owners of galloper Moudre are taking the biggest punt of their racing lives.
They are facing an agonising five-day wait to see if the stayer makes the field for next Tuesday’s $6.2 million Melbourne Cup.
When second acceptances were taken yesterday at a gala function at Crown Casino, Moudre was 25th in the order of entry for the race that stops the nation — one spot outside a start in the 24-horse field. That means Maher and senior part-owner Colin McKenna will have to rely on one of the 24 horses ahead of him being scratched before Saturday night’s barrier draw.
A bug which forced Maher to scratch Moudre from Saturday’s Moonee Valley Cup will most likely prevent the horse from running at Flemington in one of the Cup’s traditional lead-up races, the Mackinnon Stakes or Lexus Stakes. If he misses those races, horses behind Moudre in the order of entry could overtake him with a victory.
“I’ll have a chat with the owners today about whether we run him in the Mackinnon Stakes or the Lexus Stakes but my preferred option is to go straight into the Melbourne Cup with him,” Maher said.
He revealed blood tests taken yesterday morning had showed a significant improvement in Moudre’s health after a higher-than-normal white blood cell count was detected last Friday.
“He’s feeling a lot better,” Maher said.
“His white blood count has come right down. He’s nearly back to normal. I will do a bit of work with him on the track today.”
The bug meant Maher did not accept for Moudre in tomorrow’s Bendigo Cup, where his handicap was 60 kilograms.
“I’ve geared myself that I will not know for sure whether Moudre will get a run in the Melbourne Cup until Saturday night,” he said.
“We’re number 25 on the list but I reckon there will be a lot more twists and turns before Saturday. We’ve still got to get through the Lexus Stakes and the Mackinnon Stakes.The winners of those races might leapfrog us.
“Getting a run in the Melbourne Cup is out of our hands. With so many international horses running in the race it’s just so tough to get a run but I’m not complaining.
“The Melbourne Cup is now a world-class race. We’ve rolled the dice — at the end of the day we’ll either just get into the final field of 24 or just miss out.”
Racing Victoria veterinary officers will inspect the top 35 horses listed to run in the Melbourne Cup on Thursday and Friday to make sure they are fit to run in the 3200-metre race.