HUNTER-based syndicators Australian Bloodstock look to already have two runners in the 2017 Melbourne Cup, including an early favourite, but they are on the look out for more.
The Andreas Wohler-trained Red Cardinal won the group 2 Oleander-Rennen (3200m) at Hoppegarten in Germany on the weekend to effectively secure his place in the $6.2 million Cup – a race Australian Bloodstock won in 2014 with Protectionist.
Last year, Red Cardinal was among Australian Bloodstock’s best hopes for the Melbourne spring carnival but he was forced to miss the first transport from quarantine in England because he had a virus.
He then missed the ballot cut for the second transport of overseas raiders.
This year, though, Red Cardinal is no danger of missing out after his 1 ¼-length win in the Oleander-Rennen (3200m) at Hoppegarten.
Australian Bloodstock director Luke Murrell believed Red Cardinal, an equal favourite for the Cup at $15 with TAB Sportsbet, could repeat Protectionist’s feat.
“I felt he would have run top three in the Melbourne Cup last year,” Murrell said.
“Before they had the chance to ballot him off, but they won’t have that anymore because he will be too highly rated.
“He’s guaranteed a spot as long as he gets here fit and healthy.
“He’s a really good horse, I think he can win it.”
Red Cardinal’s rise follows the impressive first Australian preparation of the Darren Weir-trained Big Duke, which was third in the Sydney Cup after five wins in eight starts, including three victories at group level.
The performance put the Irish-bred four-year-old gelding firmly in the picture for a start in the Cup.
“We’ve got Big Duke, who is going good, and maybe one or two others behind the scenes and I’ll try and get one more just in case,” Murrell said.
“Big Duke is the best of the locals. He’s not as good as Red Cardinal but I think he can run top five and he will only improve.”
Ormito and Raw Impulse are other Australian Bloodstock horses in the early Cup market.
Firstly for Red Cardinal is the $(US)400,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational on June 9 in America. He secured an invitation and all-expense-paid trip to the new race with his win on the weekend.
Meanwhile, Newcastle trainer Ben Smith was looking forward to In Her Time’s next crack at the Brisbane winter carnival after a pleasing first interstate trip.
In Her Time battled on for fifth first-up in the group 1 Doomben 10,000 on Saturday after running wide throughout from an outside barrier. Smith said In Her Time had returned home and recovered well.
“It was very good and she’s got a fair bit of improvement to come as well,” Smith said. “We left a bit of gas in the tank with her and obviously the Tatts Tiara is the main goal.
“We’ll definitely go back up. We’ll try to get a run in the Stradbroke Handicap, and if we miss out, there’s the Dane Ripper Stakes the same day.”
“She’s travelled quite well and I’m very happy with her.
“We’re looking forward to getting back there and hopefully the track will dry out a bit and there’s a better surface and that will suit us better as well.
“She had a lot of things against her on Saturday and she still wanted to fight on at the end, and they were great signs.”