Mount Athos is one of several Victorian Spring Carnival nominations clashing at Newbury
17 Aug 2012 | Saturday night’s (AET) Geoffrey Freer Stakes (2650m) at Newbury (UK) features a number of Victorian Spring Racing Carnival contenders including the promising Luca Cumani-trained stayer Mount Athos who is pre-post favourite off a strong win in the John Smith’s Silver Cup (2800m) at York last month.
That win ensured Mount Athos, who has already been nominated for the BMW Caulfield Cup, passed the first ballot clause for the Emirates Melbourne Cup and connections will be hoping for a repeat performance to improve the five-year-old’s rating and potential handicap for the Cups.
Another Caulfield Cup entrant is the Tom Dascombe-trained Brown Panther who was far from disgraced when seventh behind Arc winner Danedream in the Group 1 King George Stakes (2400m) at Ascot on 21 July.
Before the King George, Brown Panther, who is owned by English soccer great Michael Owen, easily accounted for a small but select field of stayers, including 2011 Melbourne Cup sixth placegetter Lost In The Moment, in a 2400m Listed event at Pontefract.
Both Brown Panther ($51) and Mount Athos ($35) feature prominently in TAB Sportsbet’s early Caulfield Cup market, while the latter has also firmed to $26 in pre-nomination betting for the Melbourne Cup.
Amongst the other runners is Godolphin's lightly raced Modun, who finished last in the 2011 Melbourne Cup, Harris Tweed who was entered for last year's Cup, but never made the trip and the John Gosden-trained Masked Marvel.
There will also be a strong Australian interest in Sunday morning’s (AET) Arlington Million meeting at Saratoga (USA) where two recent Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock purchases, Crackerjack King and Jakkalberry, will continue preparations aimed at feature races during Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival.
Crackerjack King will be joined in the day's feature event, the Grade 1 Arlington Million Stakes (2000m), by Luca Cumani's Cox Plate nominee Afsare while Jakkalberry will tackle the inaugural 2700m American St Leger Stakes.
On Sunday night, the international racing focus shifts to Deauville (France) where 2010 Melbourne Cup champion Americain steps out in the Group 2 Prix Kergolay (3000m).
The Kergorlay has been a popular option for internationally-prepared Melbourne Cup aspirants, particularly 12 months ago where four of the first five home in last year’s Melbourne Cup, including Dunaden, came through the race at Deauville.
Americain took out the Kergolay en route to his Melbourne Cup success and French trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre will be hoping for a repeat performance in the galloper’s first start since returning to Europe.