English import Bonfire is warming up to gain a start in the Melbourne Cup if he can perform well in the Group 3 $150,000 Jack London Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Trainer Gai Waterhouse has a big opinion of Bonfire and considers him a lightweight in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 4 if he keeps improving as the first lady of the turf thinks he will.
“He’s a lightweight chance (in the Melbourne Cup), he’s got a terrific turn of foot, he can lead, or he can come from the back of the field. He just needs to get into the race, that’s the main thing,” Waterhouse told The Daily Telegraph.
A win in the Naturalism Stakes would guarantee Bonfire a place in the Group 1 $2.5m Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on October 18 and then onto the Melbourne Cup.
Bonfire has finished runner up at his two Australian starts for Waterhouse since being purchased at the end of the last year and the Manduro six year old has plenty of improvement to come.
“I didn’t think he worked brilliantly enough (at Flemington) on Tuesday when I watched him, but I got the jockey this morning to work with a partner, and once he saw the straight, I made him really attack the line and run fast time,” Waterhouse said.
“When he ran second the other day (behind Greatwood at Rosehill), I don’t think he realised he could pick up and go past that horse. Even now when he walks on to the track, you see him flicking his tail all the time because he’s thinking, ‘what will I do next’.’’
Bonfire is one of the top fancies for the Naturalism Stakes at $5.50 with Ladbrokes.com.au after running second at his first Australian start to Hoylonny over 1800m at Rosehill on August 16 then running second again to stablemate Greatwood in the Listed $100,000 Premier’s Cup (1800m) at Rosehill on August 30.
The topweight Spillway heads the market order at $3 and is also looking for an exemption from the ballot for the Caulfield Cup with a win on Saturday.
Co-trainer David Hayes and Tom Dabernig decided to back up Spillway after the five year old was beaten just over a length and a half when fourth to Dissident in the Group 1 $400,000 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington last Saturday.
Entirely Platinum is on the second line of betting at $5 and will take his place in the Naturalism Stakes after Team Hawkes scratched the dual acceptor from the Group 2 $200,000 Ascend Sales Trophies Hill Stakes (2000m) at Randwick.
Our Voodoo Prince, marked at $7, will also be trying to gain a start in the Caulfield Cup and trainer Chris Waller is hoping that the English import can regain his Autumn form that saw him collect a hat trick of wins, including a win in the Group 3 $150,000 Le Pines Funerals Easter Cup (2000m) at Caulfield on April 19.
Bonfire is currently a $41 chance for the Caulfield Cup and is marked at $51 for the Melbourne Cup.