German import Lucas Cranach is primed for a rematch with Melbourne Cup winner Americain in the Group 1 $1m Dubai Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on Saturday.
The Anthony Freedman trained Lucas Cranach showed he is a genuine weight for age performer with a stunning first up win in the Group 2 $200,000 Carlton Draught Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 25.
Lucas Cranach arrived in Australia for the Spring last year as a dour stayer but Freedman was able to turn that around and produce the five year old first up to win over 1800m at weight for age.
Former leading trainer Lee Freedman, who handed his position as head trainer for the Freedman Racing operation to his brother Anthony in August 2011, still works alongside his brother and is closely associated with the German import.
Lee Freedman rates Americain very highly and is excited at the prospect of Lucas Cranach matching it with the former French stayer after winning so impressively at Caulfield.
“Americain’s the measuring stick but we’re in with a show,” Freedman said.
“I think the run has improved him and he did a bit of pace work on Thursday and seemed nice and bright.”
The pair clashed in Dunaden’s Melbourne Cup last year when both came from well back in the field with only a whisker between them at the finish with Lucas Cranach getting the judge’s nod for third just ahead of Americain.
Lucas Cranach went into last year’s $2.5m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) under an injury cloud but still managed a creditable fifth to Southern Speed before putting in a top effort to finish third in the $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).
“He (Lucas Cranach) is pretty well fit for the Australian Cup now as he proved the other day,” Freedman said.
Americain will be having his first start for trainer David Hayes after the French galloper was previously prepared by Alain de Royer Dupre.
The French horse hasn’t raced since winning the Group 2 $350,000 Zipping Classic (2400m) at Sandown on November 12 but did have one public appearance when he galloped with stablemate Budai at Seymour on February 16.
Hayes now trains out of his newly established training complex at Euroa and was most impressed with Americain.
“I’m very happy,” Hayes said after the gallop. “He wasn’t out to run time. What I liked about the work was how long it took to pull him up.”
“He wanted to do more so I know the 2000 (metres in the Australian Cup) won’t worry him for sure.”
Americain heads the Australian Cup betting at $3.60 with Lucas Cranach at $3.85 then comes the Peter Moody trained Manighar at $7 and Bart Cummings’ Illo at $7.50.