Trainer Andrew Balding is confident that Lord Van Percy can earn a place in the 2014 Melbourne Cup field by winning the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Lord Van Percy was purchased by OTI Racing earlier this year before he finished second behind fellow Melbourne Cup contender Mutual Regard in the Ebor Handicap (2816m) and he made his Australian debut with a credible fifth place finish in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield on October 11.
The Sir Percy gelding is currently 31st in the 2014 Melbourne Cup order of entry after the second declarations were released earlier this morning, but Balding said that he was happy with the performance of Lord Van Percy in the Hebert Power Stakes and is confident that the Northern Hemisphere four-year-old will be very difficult to beat in the ballot-exempt Lexus Stakes on Victoria Derby Day.
“The horse seems to be thriving and is enjoying being at Werribee,” Balding told Racing Ahead.
“He has got to win the Lexus to get into the Melbourne Cup, but I think that he has a big chance in the Lexus.
“I was pretty pleased with the way that he ran and he was just a little bit race rusty in the early stages of the race and as a result he probably had to sit a bit further back than Kerrin (McEvoy) probably wanted to, but he finished off well.
“I think that Flemington will suit him really well and he will have every chance.
“Kerrin is booked to ride in the Lexus.”
If Lord Van Percy is able to take out the Lexus Stakes this Saturday he will be forced to back-up in the Melbourne Cup just three days later and that proved too difficult an assignment for last year’s Lexus Stakes winner Ruscello, who went on to finish at the tail of the field in the Melbourne Cup.
Balding admits that the three day back-up is a genuine concern for Lord Van Percy, but he is hopeful that the Summer Handicap winner has the necessary constitution to be able to run a strong 3200 metres in the Melbourne Cup.
“It is not ideal and particularly for European horses it is not something that we are used to doing, but having said that if there was any horse capable of doing that he is,” Balding said.
“He is not a big horse, he is closer coupled than your normal stayer and he tends to take less out of himself.
“From that point of view it is in his favour.”
Lord Van Percy is currently available at 2014 Melbourne Cup odds of $41.