Mornington trainer Pat Carey is looking for a free entry into this year’s Group 1 $2.5m BMW Caulfield Cup(2400m) at Caulfield in October with one of a possible four runners in the Listed $350,000 Mornington Cup (2400m) at Mornington on Wedensday.
The Melbourne Racing Club will exempt the Mornington Cup winner from the ballot of this year’s Caulfield Cup with Carey having two definite runners, Dame Claire and Durnford as well as the second and third emergencies Altonino and Angola.
“Credit to the Melbourne Racing Club, I think you’d struggle to find another Listed race anywhere in the world worth $350,000,” Carey said.
“They’ve created a pathway to the Melbourne Spring and for a lightly-raced horse that gives you an enormous amount of security to know that you can plan your Spring campaign with certainty.
“Year after year we see the domestic stayer faced with the increasingly difficult challenge of qualifying for the Caulfield or Melbourne Cups but the Melbourne Racing Club have identified that and are in my opinion setting the standard for the other clubs to follow.”
Carey is looking for a second Mornington Cup success after taking out his home town Cup in 2008 with Attrition and is giving the inform Durnford the best chance of his runners.
The four year old gelding took out the Listed $120,000 National Jockeys’ Trust Mornington Cup Prelude (2000m) at Caulfield on February 2 and even though Carey thinks he might be suspect at the 2400m, he has high hopes for the promising stayer.
Compared to Carey’s other top stayers, Group 1 BMW winner Cedarberg, Group 1 ATC Derby winner Ethiopia and his lightly raced Angola, Durnford is smaller in statue but the Mornington trainer was pleased with the way he went to the line at the end of the 2000m at Caulfield.
“Durnford is a different type of horse to the likes of Cedarberg, Ethiopia and Angola who were all huge horses around 17 hands; he’s smaller and has a lighter frame and I think there’s a question mark on him at 2400 metres,” Carey said.
“Having said that, when you’ve got a horse hitting the line at the end of 2000 metres, like he did last start, it always gives you confidence going forward.”
Carey’s other main chance is Dame Claire is struggling to gain form but is a winner over this distance on the tight Mornington track.
The Gai Waterhouse trained Reuben Percival is also looking for a free passage into this year’s Caulfield Cup with good form heading to Mornington.
The tough stayer has been placed at his last three starts at Listed level and ran a solid race when third to Shadows In The Sun in the Listed $100,000 Vili’s Pies Australia Day Cup (2400m) at Warwick Farm on January 26.
Reuben Percival’s consistent form has earned him the top weight of 60kgs in the fourteen horse field plus three emergencies with Tommy Berry back in the saddle.
Waterhouse will also saddle up Travolta who ran second to Shadows In The Sun at Warwick Farm and will be coming up against the Anthony Cummings trained stayer again.