Cumani fears French in Melbourne
Luca Cumani fears his Melbourne Cup runners face a tough task against the French raiders Dunaden and Americain, the last two winners of the famous race.
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Cumani's Mount Athos has been prominent in the ante-post lists for some time, while Quest For Peace shortened in the betting having finished a close fifth in the Caulfield Cup.
However, given last year's winner Dunaden defied a poor draw to win the Caulfield Cup and Americain also ran well in the same race, the Newmarket handler is wary.
"I thought he (Quest For Peace) ran extremely well. Especially as because we had a good draw we went quite handy and all the others that raced up with the pace dropped right away," Cumani told Racing UK.
"We were only beaten a length and a half and he ran very well, however, I have to say that I was very impressed with Dunaden and Americain, too. At the moment I think the French have the upper hand.
"Mount Athos is very good, too, so far I can't complain. I'm flying out on Saturday and I'll get there Monday morning and I hope they are all in as good a form as they tell me they are.
"I've been very close twice but I think those French horses are a pain in the neck!
"Ibicenco is running on Saturday in the Moonee Valley Cup. He has to win that to stand a chance of getting in.
"I think horses like Quest For Peace and Mount Athos are suited to the Melbourne Cup as they have a turn of foot, Ibicenco is more of a grinder.
"I think Ibicenco is staying in Australia. The owners love having horses with me but at the same time prize-money is so much better (in Australia), to balance the books for the syndicate they need to win something to afford horses over here."
John Gosden's Gatewood is still not guaranteed a starting place in the Melbourne Cup after Racing Victoria general manager Greg Carpenter handed him just a one kilogram penalty for his Geelong Cup victory.
The four-year-old rises to 52.5kg with the penalty, but only moves from 41st to 36th in the order of entry and the maximum field is 24.
Connections will need to rely upon attrition or win either the Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) or Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday week to secure a Cup start.
Carpenter told www.racingvictoria.net.au: "Giving account to the merit of the performance, the quality of the race, the manner in which it was contested and also the relevant weights of the opposition, I have penalised Gatewood 1kg to 52.5kg in the Emirates Melbourne Cup for his win in the Centrebet Geelong Cup.
"The Geelong Cup was run at a very slow tempo, with the first 1800m of the race covered in approximately two minutes.
"The race eventuated into a sprint home with Gatewood running his last 600m in 33.02 seconds and Chateau Margaux, Brigantin and Maluckyday all running their last 600m in less than 33secs.
"Gatewood had 2kg less than Brigantin yesterday and with the penalty issued he now has 0.5kg less than him in the Melbourne Cup, representing a turnaround of 1.5kg for a margin of 0.85 of a length.
"With respect to beaten runners Maluckyday and Tac de Boistron, who are inside the top 24 for the Melbourne Cup, Gatewood now meets them 2kg worse than in yesterday's contest."