Sydney galloper Lamasery is one of eight horses in Wednesday’s $200,000 Listed Bendigo Cup (2400m) who are still eligible of making the $6million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 1.
The eight are At First Sight, Lamasery, Sahara Sun, Tanby, Back In Black, Two For Tea, Western Symbol and Cosmonaut.
Of the eight only At First Sight and Sahara Sun are presently in the top 24 ranked horses for Australasia’s greatest race.
In fact a Bendigo Cup win for either could incur a penalty thus making their task on the first Tuesday in November tougher.
Presently the Robert Hickmott trained and Lloyd Williams owned At First Sight is 20th in the Melbourne Cup order of entry with Luca Cumani’s Sahara Sun 24th.
Those looking for a way in are Lamasery 32nd, Tanby 38th, Back In Black 46th, Two For Tea 41st, Western Symbol 47th and Cosmonaut 44th.
For Lamasery, the road to the Melbourne Cup has been a bumpy one according to his trainer David Vandyke.
“There was the long float trip from Sydney and then he didn’t settle in well when he first got to Melbourne,” Vandyke said.
“Since then he’s had a bruised heel which we have been working hard on..
“It’s OK now but overall he’s been in the wars.
“His work was good on Saturday (at Flemington) and he seems to be in a good head space.
“He’s also back on his food so I expect him to run well at Bendigo.”
Lamasery’s heel flared after an easy trial win at Cranbourne last week.
“He’ll go into (the Bendigo Cup) with a three-quarter plate (shoe),” Vandyke said.
“He’s been working in one and everything seems fine.
“(The trial) showed us he is not done with yet this preparation.”
“If he wins at Bendigo there is a good chance of him getting into the Melbourne Cup field,” Vandyke said.
Racing Victoria chief handicapper Greg Carpenter is giving hope to Vandyke.
“A penalty will depend on the horse that wins the Bendigo Cup,” Carpenter said.
“I think if a horse like Lamasery won the Cup he would incur a penalty.
“He won two Group 3 races before being placed in the Group 1 Metropolitan, it is the type of form that would warrant a penalty.”
A 1.5kg penalty would get Lamasery into the Melbourne Cup top 24 and by doing so demote Sahara Sun out.
A one kilo penalty would put him just outside the top 24 with a good chance through natural attrition to gain a start.
The same could be said about Tanby who has been runner-up in both the Herbert Power Stakes and Geelong Cup.
“He has good form and would be seriously considered for a penalty,” Carpenter said.
Tanby is one of six Lloyd Williams owned horses aiming at the Melbourne Cup.
Besides At First Sight, three others Linton, Mourayan and Midas Touch are in the top 24.
His Caulfield Cup runner up Green Moon is only 34th in the order of entry but gets his chance to promotion by winning the$250,000 Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday which would make him exempt from the ballot.
Cosmonaut, Back In Black and Western Symbol are yet to pass the Melbourne Cup first clause – that being placed in a black type race at 2300m since August 2009.
A placing in the Bendigo Cup would get them over that clause but they would still be struggling to gain a Melbourne Cup start without a penalty and it is questionable that previous form would enthuse Carpenter to give them one.