English trainer Andrew Balding is keen to get his stayer Lord Van Percy to the bigger spaces of Flemington on Saturday to try to secure a spot in the Melbourne Cup by winning the Group 3 $300,000 Lexus Stakes (2500m).
Lord Van Percy is currently thirtieth in the order of entry for the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington next Tuesday and under the conditions of entry the winner of the Lexus Stakes is exempt from the Melbourne Cup ballot and will gain a start in the final twenty-four horse field.
Balding is pleased with the condition of the Sir Percy five year old since his Australian debut when fifth to Big Memory in the Group 2 $200,000 Sportingbet Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield on October 11 and expects him to show improvement at Flemington.
“I’m looking forward to a good showing from him,” Balding told AAP.
“I think that Flemington will suit him really well and he will have every chance.
“He has got to win the Lexus to get into the Melbourne Cup, but I think that he has a big chance in the Lexus.
“He’s in great condition in his coat and physically and mentally he looks in a great place.”
“He had the run in the Herbert Power but I was amazed when I saw him out here.”
If Lord Van Percy did win the Lexus Stakes, Balding would have no qualms about backing up the stayer in three days, a practice that English and European trainers don’t usually adapt.
But Balding thinks the Lord Van Percy is the exception.
“We might back-up the sprinters a little bit quicker but the European approach with stayers is to give them three weeks between runs,” Balding said.
“But having said that he’s not a typical stayer.
“He’s a close-coupled horse, he’s a little smaller than your average European stayer and I think that’s to our advantage if you’re looking to back-up.”
A win by Lord Van Percy in the Lexus Stakes and a subsequent start in the Melbourne Cup would be a great achievement for OTI Racing who also share in the ownership of four other certain Cup starters, Brambles, Gatewood, Lidari and Au Revoir.
OTI Racing director Terry Henderson is giving Lord Van Percy a great chance of winning on Saturday and possibly ending up with five Melbourne Cup runners.
“We are really looking forward to Saturday and hoping that he can,” Henderson told RSN radio.
“We are delighted with this horse in all respects and if he can make the race he will certainly let them know that he is there.”
Melbourne Cup winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy will ride Lord Van Percy on Saturday but Henderson will only think about a jockey for Tuesday if he wins the Lexus Stakes.
“Kerrin will ride him on Saturday and then we will have a close look at it after the race. It would be a little unwise for us to get ahead of ourselves on that call.”
McEvoy will ride Lucia Valentina in the Melbourne Cup and the Kris Lees trained mare is one of the top fancies after a strong finishing third to Melbourne Cup favourite Admire Rakti in the Group 1 $3m Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on October 18.
Lord Van Percy is currently a $7 chance in the Lexus Stakes with Ladbrokes.com.au who have the Darren Weir trained Signoff marked as the $2.70 favourite.
Others in the betting are Big Memory and La Amistad at $8, Caravan Rolls On at $9 and Let’s Make Adeal at $10.
In the latest Melbourne Cup market order Lord Van Percy is listed as $34 chance.