Signoff still hopeful for Melbourne Cup campaign

Potential staying star Signoff is out of Sunday’s Pakenham Cup by is still in contention for a 2015 Melbourne Cup campaign.

Melbourne Cup hopeful Signoff will miss the Pakenham Cup because of a leg injury. Photo by Sarah Ebbett.

Melbourne Cup hopeful Signoff will miss the Pakenham Cup because of a leg injury. Photo by Sarah Ebbett.

Trainer Darren Weir had planned to give Signoff a light Autumn Carnival campaign and the $100,000 Pakenham Cup (2000m) at Racing.com Park was to be his second run back from a spell.

But the leading trainer was forced to cancel this weekend’s outing after the five year old was found to have heat behind one of his knees following his first up eighth in a 1600m Handicap at Flemington on April 11.

“Unfortunately he just had a bit of heat behind the back of the knee and we’re just taking the safety precautions with him,” Weir told racing.com.

“We’re definitely not going to run him at Pakenham.

“I don’t think it’s very serious, but we’re taking all the right precautions and it would probably end his preparation I would have thought.”

Signoff rose up through the grades during the 2014 Melbourne Spring Carnival and forced his way into the Melbourne Cup field after winning the Group 3 $300,000 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington three days before.

The Authorized gelding performed creditably to finish fourth to German stayer Protectionist in the ‘Race That Stops The Nation’ and Weir immediately set him for the 2015 Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington.

Weir doesn’t consider the current setback as a major obstacle and is confident that scans will clear him any ongoing problem.

“I don’t think it’s serious enough to put Spring in doubt but sometimes you don’t know until you scan the legs and X-ray them,” Weir said.

“He’s not sore or anything like that, it was just a bit of heat behind the knee, so we just want to get it checked out. Hopefully everything’s all right and just a little break will fix it.”

2014 Queensland Derby winner Sonntag, who heads the weights for the Pakenham Cup with 60kg, is struggling to find the form that saw him win the three year old Group 1 classic during last year’s Brisbane Winter Carnival and is coming off a last start eighth to Banca Mo in the Listed $350,000 Mornington Cup (2400m) at Mornington on March 28.

The Mick Cerchi trained Tanby is next in the weights with 59.5kg and will head to Pakenham after winning the Group 2 $400,000 Tattsbet Adelaide Cup (3200m) at Morphettville on March 9.

In an early Melbourne Cup market order at Ladbrokes.com.au Signoff shares the third line of betting at $21 with Protectionist and the Autumn Carnival weight for age star Contributer.

Japanese stayer Fame Dame heads the market at $15 just ahead of the English import Hartnell.

Hartnel looked most impressive in winning the Group 1 $1.5m The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill on March 28 but then failed to run a place as an odds on favourite when fourth to Grand Marshall in the Group 1 $1.6m Schweppes 150th Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on April 11.

About The Author

Mark Mazzaglia

Mark is a passionate journalist with a life-time involvement in the racing industry. He spent many years as an analyst and form expert at the Courier Mail and also has hands-on experience working with some of Queensland’s top trainers.

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