Outback Joe had an injury setback a month ago, but trainer Nigel Blackiston is still hopeful that he can get the promising stayer in the 2014 Melbourne Cupat Flemington on November 4.
Outback Joe was sent to the spelling paddock after he scored a tough win in the Group 2 Adelaide Cup (3200m) at Morphettville on March 10 and had been back in trackwork for almost ten weeks when he was found with a growth over his epiglottis.
Blackiston told Racing Ahead that Outback Joe’s trackwork has been restricted and he is still roughly a month away from returning to the races, but the leading trainer of stayers still thinks that the Elvstroem gelding is a chance of qualifying for a run in the Melbourne Cup by winning the Group 3 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m), Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) or Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m).
“He had that (the growth) removed, he has been on the treadmill for two weeks and hopefully we can have a saddle on him next week,” Blackiston said.
“Hopefully not, I will have to work some miracles, but hopefully I can get him there on the first Tuesday in November
“The good thing about this horse is that I won the Bagot with him third-up last summer and anaerobically he is very clean-winded and it doesn’t take a lot of work for him to get to the trips that I need him to get too.
“His only start at two miles he won and I think I can possibly get there, but with his ratings I think that we would have to win a race on the way through.
“It will be either the Moonee Valley Cup, the Geelong Cup or the Lexus; that is hopefully where he will be at his best and into the Melbourne Cup.”
Outback Joe recorded just three wins in his first nineteen race starts, but stamped himself as a stayer to watch with a string of impressive performances during his summer campaign.
The seven-year-old travelled almost three wide the entire way, but was still able to score a comfortable win in the Listed Bagot Handicap (2800m) at Flemington on New Year’s Day and he finished a tough third in the Listed Roy Higgins Quality (2600m) at Flemington on March 1 before scoring his maiden win at Group level in the Adelaide Cup.
Outback Joe is currently available at 2014 Melbourne Cup odds of $126 with Ladbrokes Australia.