Leading European trainer Luca Cumani has blamed two poor rides for the inconsistent form of Mount Athos this season and believes the six-year-old is in excellent condition ahead of his trip to Australia for the 2013 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Mount Athos started his campaign with a dominant victory in the Group 3 Ormonde Stakes (2696m) but failed to fire in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes (2414m) and Group 2 Goodwood Cup (3218m) before returning to his best form with a second place finish behind Harris Tweed in the Listed March Stakes (2816m).
Cumani has been scathing in his criticism for the rides of jockey Jamie Spencer in both the Hardwicke Stakes and Goodwood Cup, with the jockey going against riding instructions by positioning Mount Athos at the back of field, and told RSN that he got the result he expected when the Montjeu gelding was ridden correctly in the March Stakes.
“It is on record that he was given two very bad rides, that wasn’t the plan to ride him like that,” Cumani said.
“I insisted on a change in jockey and I got the result that I expected.
“He ran a very good race and I am very happy with his condition.”
Mount Athos flew home late in the 2012 edition of the Melbourne Cup to finish fifth, after starting the race as one of the favourites, and Cumani is confident that the gelding is in just as a good form as he was last year.
“I think that he hasn’t improved but he is no worse than he was last year,” Cumani said.
“I’m very happy with his condition and I’m happy with the way that he ran his race last time.”
No horse has won the Melbourne Cup without a lead-up run in Australia since Vintage Crop’s historic win in 1993 but Cumani said Mount Athos will not run in Australia before ‘the race that stops a nation’ and he will be concentrating on giving the experienced traveler the best possible preparation for the race.
“The horse likes to run fresh and that is what we will be doing, just like last year,” the veteran trainer said.
“You need a lot of things to go right and you need a good journey over with the horse.”
Mount Athos was ridden by leading British jockey Ryan Moore in last year’s Melbourne Cup but is expected to be partnered by an Australian rider this year.
Both Damien Oliver (Purple Moon) and Corey Brown (Bauer) have previously partnered Cumani-trained horses in Australia.