Forced to withdraw leading contender Cavalryman at the eleventh hour when shown to be harbouring heat in a foreleg, Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor was thrilled with classy stayer Willing Foe’s performance for fifth in Tuesday’s 2014 Melbourne Cup.
Jumping from the gates well, jockey James McDonald settled Willing Foe off the pace of early leaders My Ambivalent and Admire Rakti; receiving an ideal run in transit over the back of the course and rounding onto the famous Flemington straight.
Extending well and hitting in the line impressively, bin Suroor said he was disappointed not to be able to saddle Cavalryman for a second attempt at the Melbourne Cup, but was pleased with the brave effort of Willing Foe.
“He’s always the same. I left it to the vet. He made the decision and I respect that,” bin Suroor told AAP of Cavalryman’s late scratching.
“He ran well. I’m happy with that. The winner was the better horse but I’m happy with the way he finished his race,” he added of Willing Foe.
“If he stays good and happy and healthy we could bring him back next year.
“I love the racing here. I love to come to Australia and support Australian racing.
“We’ll try again.”
Securing a commendable race record of five wins and as many minor places from just 16 competitive appearances of course so far, the seven-year-old found strong form over an impressive 2012 preparation, highlighted by a memorable victory in the renowned Ebor (2816m).
Appearing on course just once competitively in 2013 when taking out the Listed Aston Park Stakes (2670m) by more than six lengths, the Dynaformer gelding finished second to fellow 2014 Melbourne Cup contestant Seismos in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes (2670m) first-up this year before placing a credible fourth in the Group 1 Irish St. Leger (2816m) on September 14th.
Lightly-raced throughout his entire career to date, bin Suroor is yet to settle on the next course of action for Willing Foe following a stint in the spelling paddock.