Ed Walker-trained Ruscello is no certainty to take his place in the 2013 Melbourne Cup field but bookmakers are taking no risks; with the progressive stayer into $26 in Melbourne Cup betting markets after his impressive victory in the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2400m) this afternoon.
Walker said after the race that he was worried about the long-term future of Ruscello and was leaning against running him in the Melbourne Cup but the pressure will be on the young trainer to give the Cape Cross gelding an opportunity in ‘the race that stops a nation’.
Ruscello will carry just 50kg in the Melbourne Cup if connections choose to accept; with Racing Victoria Chief Handicapper Greg Carpenter electing not to re-handicap the OTI Racing-owned stayer.
“His first appearance in Australia was very encouraging and I think that he has run very well today,” Carpenter said.
“They didn’t run a very fast time and he was taken to the front and beautifully rated.
“It was a good performance against Let’s Make Adeal and Araldo but I’ve decided not to penalise him.
“He is on the limit weight on Tuesday, so there will be a eight and a half kilo spread between Ruscello and Dunaden.
“It will be interesting whether or not they take up the challenge and accept and run on Tuesday.
“Their initial indications were that he was a horse for the 2014 Melbourne Cup but once you are presented with a start it makes it very difficult to resist.”
Another horse whose odds have shortened after running in the Lexus Stakes is Pat Carey-trained Ethiopia who came from the back of the field to finish fourth; in what was his best performance this preparation.
The Helenus gelding will carry 54.5kg in the Melbourne Cup and is now into odds of $51 after being available at a quote of $101 before today’s race, following his disappointing performance in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) a fortnight ago.
Chris Waller-trained Kelinni is still available at Melbourne Cup odds of $101 but was beaten by eight lengths in the Lexus Stakes, a race that he won last year, and Sky Racing’s Andrew Bensley reported that the Refuse To Bend gelding was unlikely to be included in the final acceptances for the race.
Luca Cumani-trained Mount Athos ($7.50) remains a narrow favourite in 2013 Melbourne Cup betting markets from last year’s runner-up Fiorente ($8), French stayer Verema ($12), Irish St Leger winner Voleuse De Coeurs ($12) and Caulfield Cup runner-up Dandino ($13).