Newmarket trainer Luca Cumani’s Melbourne Cup favourite Mount Athos escaped unscathed when fire ripped through a section of his Bedford House Stables on the eve of Emirates Melbourne Cup nominations which saw 151 entered for the $6m 3200m Group 1 at Flemington on November 6.
Cumani reported that all his horses and staff escaped uninjured form the section of the stables that was affected by the fire which was quickly brought under control by the local fire department.
“This morning’s fire in the ‘Top Ten’ boxes is now almost under control. All horses and people are OK. Huge thanks to Suffolk Fire & Rescue for an incredibly quick response and effective action.,” Cumani said.
Cumani, along with other top European trainers are prominent with entries in this year’s Melbourne Cup and Racing Victoria‘s chief handicapper Greg Carpenter said that this year’s Cup nominations are among the strongest he has seen with the last two year’s winners, French gallopers Americain and Dunaden heading the list.
“Overall I think in prospect, it’s going to be one of the strongest renewals of the race we’ve ever had,” Carpenter said.
The Italian born trainer is hoping to go one better after being runner up on two occasions with Purple Moon in 2007 and Bauer in 2008 and has nominated three for the Cup.
Recent Newbury winner Mount Athos is equal $15 with last year’s winner Dunaden in early markets with the OTI Racing owned Ibiceno at $21 and Quest For Peace also prominent at $31.
French trainer Mikel Delzangles has confirmed that last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden will return to Australia to defend his crown after consideration was given to bypassing the Cup for a shot at the Group 1 €4m QATAR Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe (1 mile 4 furlongs) at Longchamp, France on October 7.
David Redvers, racing manager to owner Sheikh Fahad, announced that Dunaden would return to Australia after the news that the world’s highest rated racehorse, the unbeaten Frankel could be heading to Longchamp for the Arc.
“The possibility of Frankel going for the Arc has put a different slant on things. I hope Dunaden would be extremely competitive in the Melbourne Cup,” Redvers said.
“Pleased to announce to his legion of fans down under that a decision has been made to send Dunaden down to defend his Crown via Caulfield.”
The number of European raiders has crept into a grey area with a several big name Australian trainers already purchasing and importing overseas stayers for the purpose of competing in the Melbourne Cup.
But the chances of the Cup going back to the Northern Hemisphere again are strong with officially twenty-three internationally trained stayers nominated for the Cup.
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’.