Trainer John O’Shea has confirmed that Havana Cooler will run in the 2015 Lexus Stakes at Flemington on Saturday and will be given the chance to earn a place in the 2015 Melbourne Cup field.
Havana Cooler was purchased by Godolphin at the end of the 2014 racing season and he made his Australian racing debut with a fast-finishing sixth in the Merrylands RSL Club Handicap (1800m) at Rosehill Gardens on August 15, but he produced a horrible performance when favourite in the Listed Wyong Gold Cup (2080m) on September 4 before he had no luck in running in the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on September 12.
The Hurricane Run gelding was given the opportunity to step-up to 2400 metres for the Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Royal Randwick on October 3 and he was caught in the worse part of the track, but he was still able to make up plenty of ground late to finish third behind Magic Hurricane and Beaten Up.
O’Shea told the media at Breakfast With The Stars this morning that he was very pleased with the performance of Havana Cooler in The Metropolitan and he is confident that the Group 1 placegetter can record his maiden Australian race win in the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) this weekend.
“I thought his Metropolitan run was great and that he and David’s horse (Almoonqith) outside of the winner were the two best runs in the race,” O’Shea said.
“He went up the rail against the bias and he was strong through the line and he’ll love the circumference at Flemington.
“He’ll also love the ground, he really likes nice and firm ground, so I think he presents with a wonderful opportunity to break into the Melbourne Cup.”
O’Shea has never previously had a runner in the Melbourne Cup, but that is set to change next weekend as Hartnell has already secured a run in ‘the race that stops a nation’.
Godolphin could also have the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained trio of Sky Hunter, Secret Number and Elhaame in the race and O’Shea admits that Godolphin supremo Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum may elect not to run Havana Cooler in the Melbourne Cup even if he is able to win the Lexus Stakes this weekend.
“Whether the boss wants to run him would be another issue because he’s got a couple of arrows to fire there, but I think he’ll be very competitive on Saturday anyway,” O’Shea said.
Havana Cooler is currently available at 2015 Melbourne Cup odds of $101 along with Elhamme, while Hartnell ($21) is rated Godolphin’s best chance from Sky Hunter ($26) and Secret Number ($41).
You can score the best Lexus Stakes odds with Ladbrokes, who will offer Best Tote or Starting Price +20% for every single race at Flemington on Saturday.