A typically bullish Gai Waterhouse was full of pre-workout praise at Moonee Valley on Monday morning after watching the efforts of her Melbourne Cup-bound stayer Excess Knowledge.
The imported Monsun stallion was put through his paces by jockey Mark Zahra at the Valley circuit ahead of his Flemington run on Turnbull Stakes Day this Sunday, October 2, in the $300,000 Group 2 The Bart Cummings (2500m).
The seven-year-old is on the Spring Cups’ path with Waterhouse targeting the veteran for runs in the $3 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 15 and the ‘race that stops a nation’ – the $6 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 1.
That Group 3 win earned him a shot at the Melbourne Cup just three days later when, on the 51kg light weight as a $31 shot, the galloper ran a credible seventh.
He crossed only three lengths off Darren Weir’s upset winner Prince Penzance in the world’s richest handicap, but is unplaced in his two runs this time in.
First-up Excess Knowledge ran ninth to Cox Plate hope Awesome Rock in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley before a last start eighth to Jameka in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on September 17.
This weekend he gets out over the extra metres back at Flemington where he hasn’t raced since the Lexus win last Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Waterhouse spoke to Racing Victoria on Monday morning and was full of her usual confidence that Excess Knowledge third-up over the distance in The Bart Cummings can secure the Melbourne Cup ballot exemption on offer to the winner.
“I’d have to say it was one of the nicest gallops I’ve seen in a long time,” she said.
“He cantered a lap to get into a rhythm.
“Mark Zahra partnered him. He’ll be riding him in The Bart Cummings at Flemington on Sunday.
“His second lap he picked up gradually, didn’t want to overcook it – which he did, I think, in his last race [the Naturalism Stakes].
“And then that final two furlongs he gradually found the line, but picking up every single moment, it was really super work.
“I felt his last race he raced upside down.
“He wanted to go too keen early in the race, then all of a sudden he said, ‘I’m jerrying to what you want me to do’ and he tried to pick up when it was all over.
“So I was a bit disappointed with his last run, but I’m very happy with what I’m seeing today.”
Zahra has had just one race day run aboard Excess Knowledge in the Naturalism, but said the hose relaxed nicely for him in his Monday workout.
“I liked his temperament,” he said.
“He wasn’t keen at all. He was really relaxed, took it all in and quickened nice the last furlong.
“I think he’s looking for that [2500m] trip.”
Waterhouse won the 2013 Melbourne Cup with French import Fiorente who came off a third in the weight-for-age Cox Plate.
She also has one Caulfield Cup winner on the record with Descarado (2010) successful six years ago for the Tulloch Lodge stable.
Waterhouse now trains in partnership with her former racing manage Adrian Bott.
In pre-field Caulfield Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au Excess Knowledge is listed at a $51 quote and is even longer at $81 in the all-in Melbourne Cup odds on the two mile classic.