Lightly raced European stayer Ibicenco needs to win the Group 2 $250,000 Drake International Cup (2500m) at Moonee Valley tomorrow to have any chance of gaining a start in this year’s Melbourne Cup.
The Luca Cumani trained Ibicenco is currently forty-two in order of entry in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 6 and could sneak into the final twenty-four with a penalty for winning at Moonee Valley.
The five year old is weighted on 51.5kg for the Melbourne Cup and after a slight setback last week is ready to make his Australian debut.
Sara Cumani, wife of Newmarket trainer Luca Cumani, has accompanied Ibicenco to Australia and said the stayer has been working well at their Werribee base.
A forward showing is expected but Cumani is not sure how Ibicenco will handle the tight Moonee Valley circuit, saying that he is used to the bigger tracks back in Eurpoe.
“He’s in great shape,” Cumani said.
“But Moonee Valley, for that sort of horse, is a big ask.”
Ibicenco was third emergency for last week’s Group 1 $2.5m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) but the Cumani stable was forced to scratch early when he had to be treated for a minor setback.
“He wasn’t one hundred per cent so we had to give him a bit of treatment but he can come through it okay,” said Cumani’s travelling foreman Charlie Hensen.
“We’re really happy with him, he had a blow out on Wednesday morning and seems in good order.”
Jockey Craig Newitt is in for a tough ride with Sara Cumani indicating that Ibicenco needs a lot of hard riding going on his second two starts at Sandown Park in England when Kieron Fellon had to push him along from the 1600m.
“One thing I can tell you is that he’s a very tiring horse to ride,” Cumani said.
“He needs to be stood over. Kieren Fallon rode him that day and he was at him for the last mile.”
Newitt, who had to get down to 49.5kg to ride Proisir in the Cox Plate, knows that he is in for an enduring ride but says he is up to the task.
“It’s no secret why I’m on him,” Newitt said.
“He’s very one-paced, but a very strong stayer. I should suit him.”
Part owners OTI Racing, headed up by Simon O’Donnell and Terry Henderson also have an interest in the English stayer Gatewood who is also struggling to make the Melbourne Cup field even though he received a 1kg penalty for winning the Group 3 $300,000 Centrebet Geelong Cup (2400m) at Geelong last Wednesday.
Ibicenco will be having his first start since being well beaten in an unsuitably run race when seventh to Times Up in the Group 2 £140,000 Weatherbys Insurance Lonsdale Cup (British Champion Series) (3299m) at York, England on August 25.
The five year old is the winner of only one race but his best effort to date was second to Campanologist in the Group 1 GER$86,957 Preis Von Europa (2412m) at Colonge, Germany on September 25, last year.
In a tight betting race, Ibicenco shares the second line of betting at $5 with the Bart Cummings trained Precedence just behind favourite Midas Touch at $4.60 in the International Cup.
Sydney stayer Ironstein is the next in the betting at $6.50 with Craig Williams mount Moudre at $8.50.