Simenon team await Cup fate
Emmet Mullins has plenty to worry about as he continues to oversee Simenon's preparation for Tuesday's Emirates Melbourne Cup.
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The nephew and assistant of trainer Willie Mullins has been looking after the gelding since he arrived in Australia and partnered him in a racecourse gallop at Flemington earlier this week.
It is sit-and-suffer time for connections, though, as Simenon is 23rd on the list for the 24-strong field and could yet be pushed out if the winners of Saturday's Mackinnon and Lexus Stakes take the opportunity for a guaranteed spot in the Cup.
The ride on Simenon will also force Richard Hughes to sweat down to his lightest possible weight of 53.5 kilograms (8st 6lb), while the jockey will be jetting in direct from action in the Breeders' Cup.
The versatile six-year-old, who was second to Estimate in the Gold Cup, is beginning to impress work-watchers at his Werribee base and caught the eye with his staying-on third in his prep-race, the Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield over an inadequate mile and a half.
"We've got our fingers crossed and hope we get in," said Emmet Mullins.
"We're delighted with him and he ran well in the Herbert Power.
"It's going to be a bit of a stretch (for Hughes to do the weight).
"I think he has only done the weight once this year and he's a big guy but he'd been on at Willie for a while trying to get on the horse."
Trainer Ed Dunlop has arrived Down Under and expects Red Cadeaux to be continuing on his global travels, despite joking the seven-year-old now "needs his zimmer frame".
Back for his third tilt after a frustrating but excellent second in 2011 and eighth 12 month ago, the seasoned campaigner finally arrested a slump in form when second to Cup rival Royal Empire in the Geoffrey Freer at Newbury.
Red Cadeaux finished up with fourth to the impressive Voleuse De Coeurs in the Irish Leger.
"He flourishes here," said Dunlop.
"If he runs well, he'll go on to Japan and the Hong Kong Vase again, but he's got to run well here first.
"I hope we're drawn better and they go more quickly than they did last year.
"If we sit at the back, we'll finish at the back. He has been an amazing horse and let's hope he continues."
Dunlop's travelling head lad, Robin Trevor-Jones, was particularly confident when interviewed on Thursday morning and said: "I'd be very disappointed if he wasn't in the first four."
Ed Walker admits he will be feeling the pressure if Ruscello can find it in himself to cause an upset in Saturday's Lexus Stakes at Flemington.
The Group Three over an extended mile and a half carries with it a place in the Melbourne Cup to the winner and Walker has booked Kerrin McEvoy for the task, already knowing Ruscello has a mountain to climb.
The gelding is by some way the lowest-rated in the 15-strong field, although he showed some promise on his first start in Australia when beaten a short head in a 10-furlong handicap at Caulfield on October 16.
Consistent but without a win in more than a year in Britain, Ruscello has reached a peak mark of 92 and will remain in the country permanently with a different trainer as he is part-owned by the OTI Racing syndicate.
"The terrible draw didn't help on his run at Caulfield but he's in great shape," said Walker, in his third season with a licence.
"It would probably be the most difficult decision of my career (to run in the Melbourne Cup) if he wins, but it depends on how the horse is. He has got a bit to do at the weights."
There are a handful of other ex-British horses in the field like Julienas, My Quest For Peace and Motivado.
Likely favourite is Araldo, who was awarded a recent Listed event at the course when the classy ex-Sir Michael Stoute-trained Sea Moon was disqualified.
Jamie Spencer appeared at the Weribee quarantine centre on Thursday to partner his Cup hope Dunaden, and he will get some experience on Saturday when riding Side Glance in the Mackinnon Stakes.
Andrew Balding's raider pulled hard but still managed to snatch sixth in last weekend's Cox Plate, his main target.
This race, over a mile and a quarter, also allows a passage through to the Melbourne Cup for the winner, if entered.
Another feature of the card will be the appearance of Australia's latest sprinting sensation, the much-hyped Zoustar, in the Coolmore Stud Stakes.
Chris Waller's colt is already being considered for Royal Ascot next year.