The 2013 Melbourne Cup is looking very unlikely for English stayer Ruscello even if he wins the Group 3 $300,000 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington today.
Newmarket trainer Ed Walker said that if the improving Ruscello was to win the Lexus Stakes, a ballot free race for the Cup, he would be very reluctant to back the five year old up in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday.
Ruscello is currently equal forty-one in the order of entry for the Melbourne Cup and is a $14 chance in the Lexus Stakes and would have to produce a huge form turnaround to win today.
But if the unexpected happened, Walker is of the opinion that it would be a gut buster and wouldn’t ask the Cape Cross gelding for a repeat effort on Tuesday.
“He would need to run a lifetime best to win the Lexus,” Walker told AAP.
“If he did that it would be a bit unfair to ask him to do the same again in an even tougher race three days later.”
Walker admits that Ruscello hasn’t lived up his expectation so far in his short career with four wins from seventeen starts, but was buoyed by his first start in Australia when second to Backbone over 2000m at Caulfield in a restricted race after not travelling well from England.
“He probably hadn’t lived up to his potential,” Walker said.
“But he came here and ran a great race first time out in Australia. Now he needs to do even more.”
“He lost about 23 kilograms on the trip out which is quite a lot.”
“But he put it back on quick enough for us to take our chances at Caulfield the other week.”
If Walker decides not to run in the Melbourne Cup even if Ruscello gains a start by winning the Lexus Stakes, his decision would be welcomed by many connections of fringe horses that are sweating on a run in the ‘race that stops the nation’.
The Mike Moroney trained Araldo, thirty-fifth in the order of entry, is the $4.40 favourite for the Lexus Stakes is one of many runners who needs to win to gain a start while the Chris Waller trained Kellini (24th in order of entry), the second favourite at $6.50 can cement his place in the Melbourne Cup final field by winning back to back Lexus Stakes.
Of the rest of the field, the topweight Ethiopia, $31, is the only runner that is guaranteed a start in the Melbourne Cup, currently sitting at number thirteen in the order of entry.