Irish stayer Simenon will make his Australian racing debut in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield on Saturday rather than the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) next weekend.
Simenon was originally brought to Australia to compete in both the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup (3200m) but trainer Willie Mullins told RSN that he felt the six-year-old needed a longer break between runs than the two and a half weeks between the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup.
“He is in the Melbourne Cup and I just think it gives him more time between the two races,” Mullins said.
“The Herbert Power gives us a few more days and I was happy to do that rather than go for the bigger prizemoney in the Caulfield Cup.
“We are out here to hopefully get into the Melbourne Cup and run well in that.”
Simenon is the first horse that Mullins has brought to Australia since Holy Orders finish 17th behind Makybe Diva in the 2003 edition of the Melbourne Cup and he has made a deliberate effort to settle the Marju gelding at the International Equine Centre in Werribee as early as possible.
“I thought that if I ever had a horse good enough to bring over again I would get over and get the early quarantine done and get a run into him,” Mullins said.
“I think that was the big lesson that I learnt.
“We took a chance on him (Holy Orders) and it didn’t work but we learnt some valuable lessons and that is why we are doing what we are doing this time.
“I think when you travel from another part of the world it is an advantage to get settled in and get a run under your belt.”
Simenon will be competing in a race shorter than 2800 metres for the first time since he finished third in the 2010 November Handicap (2414m) at Doncaster and Mullins admits that he is not sure how the proven stayer will handle the shorter trip.
“It is going to be tough for him but I think that he will learn a lot in that,” Mullins said.
“I just want him finishing well on Saturday and if we are lucky enough to win then well and good.
“I think he won’t have run in a race this fast for a while and because he is so keen we wouldn’t run him back.
“We have plenty of opportunities to run him over longer trips.
“We are not saying that he won’t be as effective over a mile and a half but it would look on the form book that he wouldn’t be.”
Simenon is currently sitting 31st in the 2013 Melbourne Cup order of entry and will he need to earn a weight penalty by winning the Herbert Power Stakes or hope that at least seven horses above him pull out of the event to earn a start in ‘the race that stops a nation’.
Mullins admits that he has taken a risk bringing Ascot Gold Cup runner-up to Australia without a guaranteed start in the Melbourne Cup but he is holding out hope that his star galloper can qualify for the $6 million event.
“I find it difficult not to be praying for other people to drop out,” Mullins said.
“Everybody is hoping to stay in but we need seven to drop out.”
Mullins is looking to join Dermot Weld (Vintage Crop and Media Puzzle) as the only Irish trainer to win the Melbourne Cup.