The world’s richest handicap on the first Tuesday of November at Flemington Racecourse could be on the spring agenda for the progressive OTI Racing-owned Gallic Cheiftain after the stayer’s tough Rosehill win over the weekend put him in Melbourne Cup 2017 calculations.
The rising four-year-old Tamayuz stallion jumped red hot favourite in the $125,000 Listed ATC Winter Cup (2400m) on Saturday and didn’t disappoint the punters.
The French import, now prepared by record-breaking Victorian horseman Darren Weir, made it back-to-back winter wins beating home the Chris Waller-trained Montauk by three-quarters of a length in a gutsy effort.
“I would like to say it was painless but at least he kept coming,” Weir’s stable rep Jarrod McLean told the media post-win on Saturday.
“He is a lovely, sound horse and you can see the improvement in him.
“He will be even better next preparation.
“There is more improvement needed but he is on the right track.”
The Winter Cup success followed on from a 2040m success at Moonee Valley on June 3 and has connections talking about a spring bid targeting the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) over the two miles on November 7.
Gallic Chieftain has now won five of his 16 career starts, the Winter Cup his first in stakes’ company down under having been racing in Australia since October last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
Should he go all the way to the ‘race that stops a nation’, the galloper will be emulating fellow import Natski won took out the 1988 Winter Cup before his brave second to brilliant Kiwi mare Empire Rose in that year’s Melbourne Cup.
“No doubt OTI have a race in November picked out for him,” McLean said.
“There is a long way to go between now and then but he is an impressive horse with a lot of upside to him.
“We will aim high and see how far he gets.”
Jockey Dean Yendall worked hard to run down the leader Montauk in the dying stages of the Winter Cup and said Gallic Chieftain was a genuine stayer working in the right direction for a Melbourne Cup campaign.
“He is still ‘new’ and doesn’t know how to put them away yet,” Yendall said.
“Over here, he is too much of a thinker, he does so much wrong. When he gets beside them, he wants to play with them but the one thing he can do is stay — he will stay all day.”
In futures Melbourne Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au Gallic Cheiftain is listed as a $51 outsider to hand Weir his second win in three years after the upset of 100/1 roughie Prince Of Penzance in 2015.
The nomination deadline for this year’s Melbourne Cup is Tuesday, August 29.