English stayer Mount Athos has staked an early claim for this year’s Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington in the Spring with a runaway win at Chester overnight.
Mount Athos with jockey Jamie Spencer in the saddle treated the opposition with contempt recording a nine lengths victory in the Group 3 £75,000 Boodles Diamond Ormonde Stakes (1m 5 ½f).
The ground appeared to be chopping up and even though Mount Athos prefers a good surface, the six year old had no trouble handling it, running away from his rivals over the last two furlongs.
“You can see for yourself is all scuffed up and this horse is a real fast ground horse. It was very brave of Mr Cumani and Dr Koukash to run as conditions were against him – God help the rest of them if it was fast,” Spencer said.
Trainer Luca Cumani has mapped out another plan to return to Australia for another attempt to win the Melbourne Cup and will now head to Royal Ascot to run in Group 1 £350,000 The Gold Cup (2 mile 4 furlong) on June 20.
“Last year he won his three races in England nicely spaced out and I think we’ll stick with the plan. He will probably have another two, or maybe three races, before the Melbourne Cup but we’re not going to abuse him at this stage,” Cumani said.
Cumani quickly dismissed owner Dr Marwan Koukash’s suggestion to back up Mount Athos at next week’s York meeting saying that he tough stayer will have his races spaced as he heads towards Melbourne.
“The Melbourne Cup is the ultimate aim. We may take him to Ascot for the Gold Cup, speaking to the handicapper in Australia, they assure me for an Ascot Gold Cup winner it would be no more than 55kg so we may consider that,” Koukash said.
Surprisingly Mount Athos started the second favourite at 11/8 with runner-up Mad Moose was a 20-1 chance in the six horse field.
The Aidan O’Brien trained Memphis Tennessee was sent out the 6/5 favourite winding up in fourth spot thirty-five lengths from the winner.
Mount Athos had a tough run in last year’s Melbourne Cup and did a good to finish fifth, three and a quarter lengths behind Green Moon and Fiorente.