Talented English stayer Opinion is expected to visit Australia for the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival, even if he fails to win the Ebor Handicap (2816m) at York on Sunday morning.
Based on his current rating figures, Opinion would not be allocated a high enough weight to quality for the 2013 Melbourne Cup (3200m) field and although he will need to win England’s premier handicap race to be any chance to contest ‘the race that stops nation’ Harry Herbert, racing manager for owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing Syndicate, believes a trip to Australia is on the cards no matter what the result this weekend.
“I think we’ll be giving very serious consideration to going down to Australia as there’s a good middle and longer-distance programme with very good prize money,” Herbert told Racing Victoria.
“All the members of the syndicate are open to doing it.
“I think he’d have to win the Ebor impressively to give himself a hope of getting into the Melbourne Cup but there are plenty of other good races there at around the same time anyway.
“We might well leave him in Australia afterwards and whether he makes this year’s Cup, we would certainly hope he could make it next year.”
The Michael Stoute-trained entire is a handicap specialist who has raced consistently since returning from a break in May.
He finished third first-up, carrying 60kg, in the British Racing Stakes (2414m) at Newmarket and backed that performance up with an impressive victory in the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap (2414m) during the 2013 Royal Ascot meeting.
The son of Oasis Dream finished a slightly disappointing fifth in the Old Newton Cup (2395m) at Haydock Park last month but had plenty of excuses after being unable to find clear running in the final stages of the race.
Opinion has been included in the nominations for the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and connections will be hoping he can follow in the footsteps of Godolphin stayer All The Good who won the 2008 edition of the Ebor Handicap before coming to Australia to win the Caulfield Cup.
Stoute has not had a runner in the Melbourne Cup since Distinction finished nineteenth behind champion mare Makybe Diva in 2005 but he did prepare Fiorente last year who finished second in the Melbourne Cup after joining the Gai Waterhouse stable.