Australian Bloodstock eye Newcastle assault as plans change for Melbourne Cup hope

Hunter-based syndicators Australian Bloodstock hope interstate form holds up when they chase a Newcastle Cup-Cameron Handicap double at home on Friday.

The Darren Weir-trained Mongolian Wolf and Plein Ciel will wear the Australian Bloodstock colours in the features, while the Kris Lees-trained Aliferous and Sunreel in the Spring Stakes and Princess Posh in the Tibbie Stakes will do likewise in the meeting's other group 3 races.

Weir, Australia's leading trainer, was unplaced with his first Newcastle runner, Pacodali, in the Cup (2300m) last year.

Mongolian Wolf has placed three times in his past four starts, each time carrying 58 kilograms or more, but has not won since June 2 at the same venue.

The former Kiwi returns to NSW for the first time since winning on debut in Australia in the group 3 Frank Packer Plate at Randwick in April 2017.

He will carry just 54kg and was an $11 chance for the $200,000 Newcastle Cup with TAB Fixed Odds after drawing nicely in gate two.

Newcastle jockey Andrew Gibbons has been given the ride and he will also feature on Sunreel and Cameron runner Sense Of Occasion.

Australian Bloodstock director Luke Murrell said Mongolian Wolf was not out of place in the Cup given his only run in NSW.

"It's only Adelaide form and it's whether that's good enough or not," Murrell said. "But he's probably a horse that doesn't carry weight great. 

"We're going to go up in class obviously but it's well down in weight and Gibbo's the most consistent rider in NSW, I reckon, as far as not making mistakes, and he gets a nice draw, so he'll get his chance.”

Murrell was more excited about the Cameron (1500m) chances of Plein Ciel, which has won six of eight starts in Victoria since imported from Germany. He was a last-start winner at Caulfield over 1600m after third in the Mildura Cup (1400m). That came after 14 months off the scene with a tendon injury.

Third up from a spell, he will carry bottom weight of 54kg from gate 11 with Brenton Avdulla aboard.

"Plein Ciel's two runs back have been fantastic," Murrell said. "The general rule of thumb is NSW form is better than Victoria but Darren thinks he's every bit a group 1 horse. Whether it's now or later on his prep, that's the question. But he's flying I reckon, so he'll give it a really good shake."

He believed Sunreel and Aliferous were similar hopes in a Spring Stakes that “doesn't look an overly hard race”, and Princess Posh was a “top-two chance” in the Tibbie. 

“Princess Posh raced below what she normally can the other day so if she can improve off that, I give her a really good chance,” Murrell said. “All are in races where it wouldn't surprise if they won.”

Meanwhile, Australian Bloodstock’s top Melbourne Cup hope Torcedor will delay his trip Down Under to race in the group 1 Preis von Europa in Germany on September 23.

“He was going to come in the first shipment but we've changed plans there,” Murrell said. “He'll run in the group 1 and come in the second shipment for the Cup.

“It’s just over a month between races so that's very suitable.

“He should win the race in Germany, which will be good for the owners.”

Torcedor is a $13 equal second favourite for the Cup with the TAB.

Red Cardinal and Big Duke are other Cup hopes for the owners of 2014 winner Protectionist.