Trainer Chris Waller has been thrilled with the 2014 Melbourne Cup lead-up form of Junoob and he is confident that the imported stayer will be competitive in the $6 million event at Flemington on Saturday.
Junoob was sent to the spelling paddock after he finished third behind Streama in the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) in Brisbane on May 17 and he returned to the races with an eighth place finish in the Group 3 Show County Quality (1200m) at Royal Randwick on August 23.
The Haafhd gelding failed to handle the heavy Royal Randwick track when he was sixth in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) on September 6, but he was able to return to winning form in the Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on September 20.
There was a question mark over the ability of Junoob to run out a strong 2400 metres in the Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Royal Randwick on October 4 and he looked like a sitting duck when he hit the front with 400 metres, but he stayed on strongly to record a tough victory from fellow Melbourne Cup hopefuls Opinion and Araldo.
Junoob was very well-backed in the lead-up to the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on October 11, but the imported galloper did not have a great deal of luck in running and still worked home fairly to finish seventh.
Waller told TVN this morning that he was happy with the Caulfield Cup performance of Junoob as well as his overall Melbourne Cup lead-up form and he believes that there are plenty of positives about the six-year-old heading into ‘the race that stops a nation’.
“I thought his run in the Caulfield Cup was very good,” Waller said.
“He had no luck whatsoever and he did win The Metropolitan in a very strongly run race.
“He is in the race and he has drawn very well.”
Blake Shinn was originally booked to ride Junoob in the Melbourne Cup, but he will miss the race due to suspension and has been replaced by Hugh Bowman.
Bowman has been successful at Group 1 level on 32 occasions, but he is yet to record a win in one of the four major races on the Australian racing calendar and he does not have a good record in the Melbourne Cup after missing the placings on Seville (12th in 2013), Mourayan (seventh in 2012) and Roman Emperor (21st in 2009).
Junoob opened at 2014 Melbourne Cup odds of $21, but he is now out to $26 to deliver Waller a maiden win in the race.