Godolphin stayer Royal Empire is on track for the Melbourne Cup (3200m) after recording a strong victory in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes (2670m) at Newbury on Saturday.
The race could prove to be a key lead-up event to the 2013 edition of the Melbourne Cup with other hopefuls Red Cadeaux and Lost In The Moment rounding out the placings.
Royal Empire finished off strongly in the final furlong to score his first win at Group level and improved his record to three wins from six starts this campaign.
The four-year-old is set to be Godolphin’s leading chance in ‘the race that stops a nation’ but Racing Manager Simon Crisford believes the son of Teofilo will need to win another race to qualify for the field.
“I am very pleased with that,” Crisford told the media after the race.
“He is progressing all the time and I hope the handicapper was as impressed as I was and pushes him up another 3 pound because I think he will need it to get into the Melbourne Cup.
“He is very solid and we will try and get a couple more runs into him before Melbourne.
“Where we go for those runs however, I’m not sure.”
Red Cadeaux returned to his best form after struggling in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2011m) and King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2414m) during this campaign and is set to return to Australia for a third straight tilt at the Melbourne Cup.
“It’s great to see him back to his best and the weight just beat him,” assistant trainer George Peckham told PAA after the race.
“The plan is to go into quarantine for Australia and start off in the Caulfield Cup.”
Red Cadeaux will be making his first appearance in the Caulfield Cup (2400m) after finishing second (2011) and eighth (3200m) in his past attempts at the Melbourne Cup.