A 2013 Cox Plate first three finish for Fiorente on Saturday will keep the smile on the face of Gai Waterhouse as the import heads towards the Group 1 $6.2m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 5.
The top Sydney trainer has kept Fiorente on the fresh side for the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley but has always had her sights set on the Melbourne Cup.
“His main goal is the Cup that’s what we brought him for last year,” Waterhouse told Racing Network.
“He didn’t do a bad job then and hopefully he can better it is year.”
At his first run for the Waterhouse stable in November last year, the English stayer ran second to Green Moon in the Melbourne Cup and Waterhouse immediately planned her attack to go one better this year.
Waterhouse is using the 2013 Cox Plate as the final lead up to the Melbourne Cup for Fiorente with Blake Shinn having his first ride on the imported six year old.
Shinn is taking over from Nash Rawiller who was initially replaced by Damien Oliver after Fiorente finished fourth to Happy Trails in the Group 1 $500,000 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 5.
But Oliver was subsequently replaced by Shinn after being suspended for careless riding but will be back to take the Melbourne Cup mount.
With the untimely injury to Atlantic Jewel which forced her withdrawal from the 2013 Cox Plate, it is no surprise that Waterhouse regards It’s A Dundeel as the one to beat.
“It’s A Dundeel is my greatest challenge. He looks terrific, Murray Baker has got him spot on,” Waterhouse said.
Kiwi trainer Murray Baker has been racing against time to have It’s A Dundeel back to peak condition after the four year old developed a foot abscess after beating Atlantic Jewel in the Group 1 $400,000 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 21.
But Baker and jockey James McDonald are confident that the multiple Group 1 Kiwi star is back to his best with a solid gallop at Moonee Valley yesterday morning.
“We are pretty happy with him,” Baker told The Daily Telegraph after It’s A Dundeel worked at Moonee Valley.
“He had a hit-out at Caulfield last Wednesday where he ran ‘time’, and had another strong gallop at Flemington on Saturday.
“Today’s (Tuesday) gallop has just topped him off for the Cox Plate. He won’t get beaten on the score of fitness, I’m confident of that.”
It’s A Dundeel at $4 is just shading Puissance De Lune at $4.40 for favouritism for the 2013 Cox Plate with Fiorente well up in the market order at $4.60.
Caulfield Guineas winner Long John is rated a $9 chance while Turnbull Stakes winner Happy Trails marked at $14.