A win by Elhaame in the Group 3 $300,000 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday will give Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor multiple runners in the Melbourne Cup three days later.
Elhaame is a winner at his last two starts in England over 2092m at York on August 22 followed by a win over 2066m at Doncaster on September 9, but is yet to pass the first elimination clause of the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 3.
But bin Suroor is confident that if Elhaame could win the exempt free Lexus Stakes and gain an automatic start in the Melbourne Cup, the six year old gelding would have no trouble backing up three days later.
“This horse, I like him a lot,” bin Suroor told racing.com.
“He improved a lot when he came here to Australia, physically it’s a good change and he looks much better than ever.
“It gives us a chance to run him Saturday. We’ll see how he goes, but if he run and won he will be in the Cup.
“He’s a tough horse. You can run him Saturday and Tuesday, but Secret Number thinks it will be not easy for him. We’ll try (and save) him on Tuesday.”
Top Victorian jockey Brad Rawiller has secured the ride on Elhaame in the Lexus Stakes and the Acclamation gelding has drawn well at gate four in the final field of thirteen.
Bin Suroor has already qualified Sky Hunter, who sits at number seventeen in the order of entry for the Melbourne Cup but his other Cup hopeful, Secret Number, is just outside of the final twenty-four at number twenty-seven, and will need at least three ahead of him to withdraw before Saturday.
Secret Number showed bin Suroor that he was feeling above himself with a bucking and kicking session following his morning workout at the Werribee International Thoroughbred Centre.
“He’s always like that. He enjoys it,” bin Suroor said.
“He’s really happy in the morning after exercise, even in England, and it shows he’s happy and healthy.”
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Sky Hunter is the most fancied of bin Suroor’s three Melbourne Cup hopefuls and is listed at $26 with Labrokes.com.au with Secret Number at $51 while Elhaame is the outsider of the trio at $81.
Japanese stayer Fame Game heads the market order at $4 ahead of English galloper Trip To Paris at $8 and Caulfield Cup winner Mongolian Khan at $9.
Alhaame is well in contention in the betting for the Lexus Stakes and is marked at $7.50 with Ladbrokes.com.au.
In a congested market order, the Gai Waterhouse trained Excess Knowledge shares early favouritism with John O’Shea’s Havana Cooler at $6 ahead of Ruling Dynasty at $6.50 wwith Bohemian Lily marked at $8.50.
Lexus Stakes market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $6 Excess Knowledge, Havana Cooler, $6.50 Ruling Dynasty, $7.50 Elhaame, $8.50 Bohemian Lily, $11 Chance To Dance, Zanteca, $13 Junoob, Hawkspur, $16 Thunder Lady, $19 Manalapan, $21 High Midnight, $31 Ethiopia.
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