Australia’s premier trainer Peter Moody is searching new ground in an attempt to win his first Melbourne Cup with Oaks winner Lights Of Heaven heading his nine nominations in a total of 151 when entries closed today for the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 6.
Moody has risen to the top of the training ranks over the last few years and last season capped off the most successful season to date with 209 winners Australia wide, plus super mare Black Caviar’s Group 1 win at Royal Ascot adding to Moody’s ten Group 1 wins on home soil.
The premier trainer is looking to fight off the threat of overseas trainers and stayers with several European imports already in his stable to compliment his own home grown gallopers.
“The Melbourne Cup is new ground for me but I don’t think Lights of Heaven has to find too much improvement to be worthy of having a shot,” Moody said.
“Long term I’d like to think Lights Of Heaven will be a Melbourne Cup prospect.”
Lights Of Heaven was aimed at last year’s Melbourne Cup after winning the Group 1 $400,000 Schweppes Oaks (2000m) at Morphettville in the previous Autumn and was among the favourites in early markets.
But Moody had to cut her Spring short after the mare failed to regain her best form and was sent back to the paddock to develop.
“I think just immaturity has been a major contributing factor. We’ve just been patient, let her mature and I think we’ll have a nicer mare again as a five year old,” Moody said.
The Zabeel mare returned to her best form during the Winter this year and after running second to Mawingo in the Group 1 $500,000 Kirks Doomben Cup (2000m) at Doomben on May 19, went on the win at Group 2 level twice over the Eagle Farm Carnival.
Lights Of Heaven was too strong for dual Doomben Cup winner Scenic Shot in the Group 2 $250,000 Al Basti Equiworld Eagle Farm Cup (2200m) at Eagle Farm on June 2 then went on to win the Group 2 $300,000 Australian Special Metals Brisbane Cup (2400m) at Eagle Farm the following week.
Moody’s other strong Melbourne Cup chances are his Autumn weight for age star Manighar, improving stayer Vatuvei, Italian imports Voila Ici and Sneak A Peek and the promising Moment Of Change who won first up in the Listed $100,000 Show County Quality (1200m) at Warwick Farm on August 25.
Group 1 winner Voila Ici had his first run for the Moody stable when a handy sixth to Sincero last Saturday in the Group 2 $220,000 New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield while Lights Of Heaven kicked off her Melbourne Cup campaign with an eleventh to Pinwheel in the Group 2 $175,000 Pro-Ride Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm on August 25.
“I was happy enough with Lights Of Heaven’s first-up run and she has improved since. Stepping up to 1600m will suit her more,” Moody said.
The Melbourne Cup nominations are top heavy with Europeans including stayers from the big name stables of Dermot Weld, Godolphin, Aidan O’Brien and Luca Cumani.
Racing Victoria’s chief handicapper Greg Carpenter says this year’s nominations are among the strongest he has seen and include the last two Melbourne Cup winners in Dunaden and Americain.
“Overall I think in prospect, it’s going to be one of the strongest renewals of the race we’ve ever had,” Carpenter said.
Leading Sydney trainers Chris Waller and Gai Waterhouse are also looking for their first Cup victory with heavy stable representatives among the entries.
Waterhouse has entered ten, including her super mare More Joyous, and last Saturday’s Rosehill winner, the imported Glencadam Gold.
While Waller has six entries headed by The Metropolitan Handicap winner The Verminator and promising stayer Permit.
Imported American galloper Sanagas is among ten entries for Cups King Bart Cummings who is looking for his thirteenth win in the ‘Race that stops a nation’.