Melbourne Cup 2017: Sixties Groove joins already strong Australian Bloodstock campaign

LOCAL HOPE: Australian Bloodstock-owned Big Duke winning the Chairman's Handicap last preparation at Randwick. Picture: bradleyphotos.com.au

LOCAL HOPE: Australian Bloodstock-owned Big Duke winning the Chairman's Handicap last preparation at Randwick. Picture: bradleyphotos.com.au

Fresh from buying second-favourite Admire Deus, Hunter syndicators Australian Bloodstock hope to secure a fourth qualifier for this year’s Melbourne Cup in the coming weeks.

Australian Bloodstock, the syndicators behind 2014 Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist, on Thursday announced they had bought half of Japanese stayer Admire Deus, which will head to the stables of premier Victorian trainer Darren Weir.

Admire Deus was second favourite at $15 with TAB Fixed Odds behind another Australian Bloodstock horse, the Andreas Wohler-trained Red Cardinal ($13), in Cup betting. Australian Bloodstock, founded by the Hunter’s Luke Murrell and Jamie Lovett, also have the Weir-trained Big Duke in the market at $21. 

Luke Murrell and Jamie Lovett

Luke Murrell and Jamie Lovett

Murrell said the company had been lucky so far this year in securing three qualifiers but they had their sights set on gaining another.

“We bought another horse through the week from England called Sixties Groove and he’s not qualified yet, but there’s a group 1 race in German in three weeks and if he can run top five there, he can qualify for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups as well,” Murrell said.

Irish-bred, German-trained Red Cardinal was among Australian Bloodstock horses set for the Cup last year but he missed the trip Down Under because of a virus.

Sixties Groove, also to be trained by Wohler, is an Irish-bred four-year-old gelding with three wins from 12 starts in the UK.

While Murrell was hopeful of getting Sixties Groove into the $6.2 million Cup, he was excited about the prospects of Admire Deus.

“He’ll be significantly the highest-rated Japanese horse ever to come to Australia,” he said.

“He’s from the same owner as 2014 Caulfield Cup winner Admire Ratke [Riichi Kondo], but they tell me he’s six to eight lengths better.

“He’s a six-year-old but he’s only had 20-odd starts and he’s just a really tough horse. Darren put some clients in, we took the other half, and it’s worked out well.

”He is second favourite to Red Cardinal, mainly on spec because no one really expected him to come, but I think he’ll start favourite now.”

Meanwhile, Newcastle trainer Paul Perry is pleased with the preparation of Perast heading into the listed Rosebud (1100m) at Rosehill on Saturday.

The Snitzel colt had only three starts as a two-year-old, for one win at Scone, and resumes after two impressive, front-running trial wins.

Perry was disappointed with the outside draw in eight but expected Perast to go forward.

“He’s come along all right, he’s been pleasing,” Perry said. “We’ll soon see where he’s at. It looks a very competitive race, they’ve all got form.

“It’s always better to draw in but he’s got a bit of speed and he’ll be handy I’d say.”

Perast was third in the $250,000 Inglis Premier 2YO at Caulfied last season before sixth in the group 2 Todman.

“He’s always been likable and he’s worth giving a shot at those things,” Perry said.

“He’s done everything asked of him and been pleasing all the way through.”

Racing NSW reports: Invincible Gem’s brilliant Missile Stakes resumption has almost certainly forced Kris Lees to revise her immediate program.

Lees indicated he would most likely bypass Saturday week’s Group 3 Toy Show Quality (1200m) at Royal Randwick with his talented mare and give her a break of four weeks between runs.

Invincible Gem (Corey Brown) powers home to win the Missile Stakes first-up at Royal Randwick. Image by Steve Hart Photographics

He is now looking at the $200,000 Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) – which he won three years ago with Lucia Valentina – at the same track on September 2 as Invincible Gem’s next target.

Beginning her four-year-old campaign, Invincible Gem (Corey Brown) beat stablemate and triple Group 1 winner Le Romain in last Saturday’s Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m), run under weight-for-age conditions, at Randwick.

“The Tramway, being a set weights and penalties race, is shaping as a better alternative,” Lees said. “Invincible Gem has gone up 14 Benchmark points (94 to 108), which is understandable, for her win last Saturday.

“As a result, she would get a lot of weight in the Toy Show and I am mindful she has a long campaign ahead of her. If we wait for the Tramway, I will trial her again in the interim.”

Under the conditions of the Tramway, Invincible Gem would carry 55kg (including a 2kg penalty for her Missile success). After the Tramway, Invincible Gem will tackle the $400,000 Group 2 Golden Pendant (1400m) against her own sex at Rosehill Gardens on September 23, and her trainer is hoping to then get her to Melbourne for another shot at Group 1 glory in the Myer Classic (1600m) at Flemington on November 4.

Lees reported both Invincible Gem and Le Romain had come through their return races really well: “Le Romain will also have his next start on the same day as the mare, but in Melbourne,” he said. That will be the $1m Group 1 wfa Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 2. “As with Invincible Gem, it’s likely I will also trial him before he goes to Melbourne,” Lees said.

Doomben Cup winner Sense Of Occasion will trial for a second time this time in at Newcastle on Wednesday before Lees determines when to resume him. But while the news with Invincible Gem, Le Romain and Sense Of Occasion is all good, unfortunately recent stable acquisition Artlee has had a setback and won’t be seen during the spring.

Artlee suffered a colic attack as a result of a displaced colon and required emergency surgery. The inaugural 2015 Country Championships winner has come through the surgery well, but spring assignments are out of the question.

“It’s a matter of looking after him now, and we’ll get him back to racing later in the year,” Lees said. Artlee had won both recent trials on the Beaumont track and at Gosford, and was being prepared for a likely return at Randwick on Saturday week in the Group 3 Show County Quality (1200m).

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