Imported galloper Le Roi will face a significantly weaker field when he drops back to Listed level for the 2014 Port Adelaide Cup at Morphettville this weekend.
Le Roi was thrown into the deep end against some of the best horses in Australia in the $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on April 19 and battled home bravely to finish ninth, but was completely outclassed by the likes of It’s A Dundeel, Sacred Falls, Carlton House and Royal Descent.
McEvoy admitted that Le Roi did not have the class required to match it with the leading weight-for-age horses in the country, but said that the Areion entire had trained on strongly following the tough performance and was in good condition heading into the Port Adelaide Cup on Saturday.
“He was always chasing, he tried hard, but they were just too sharp,” McEvoy told TVN.
“He’s come through the race well, he’s thrived since I sent him back to Adelaide and he’s trained on well.
“I think this is the best I’ve had him placed this preparation and he’s out to a distance that he is good at.
“I’m really looking forward to him running Saturday.”
Le Roi is the standout runner in the 2014 Port Adelaide Cup field, but will not have it his own way; with the past two South Australian Derby winners Escado and Zabeelionaire set to contest the Group 1 race.
Zabeelionaire has been unable to record another race win since he took out the 2012 edition of the South Australian Derby and has not been able to replicate the form that saw him finish sixth in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and fifth in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival.
Escado scored a surprise win from Hioctdane and Shoreham in the 2013 South Australian Derby and made a slow start to his autumn preparation, but found a semblance of his best form with an unlucky ninth behind Our Voodoo Prince in the Group 3 Easter Cup (2000m) at Caulfield on April 19 and a second place finish in the William Buck Plate (2000m) at the same venue last Saturday.
Le Roi ($3.50) is currently favourite in 2014 Port Adelaide Cup betting markets from Darren Weir-trained Shiny Buttons ($4.80), Escado ($5) and Mujadale ($6.50), while Zabeelionaire is available at a quote of $15.