OTI’s international Melbourne Cup squad is taking shape, with key contenders on both sides of the Atlantic marching towards the first Tuesday in November.
At Roscommon (IRE) overnight, Downdraft scored a listed race win that will launch him into the Ebor Handicap at York, a traditional lead-up for the Melbourne Cup.
The Ebor is not a Cup qualifier but winners tend to attract enough weight to ensure a Cup start. Last year’s Ebor winner Muntahaa safely made the Cup field.
And Amade, OTI’s winner of the Belmont Gold Cup in New York last month, will cross the Atlantic to Paris where he will next appear in the Prix Kergolay, another prominent stepping stone to our great race.
Protectionist won the Kergolay before winning the Melbourne Cup in 2014.
OTI’s Terry Henderson predicted that a dramatic increase in stake-money for the Ebor, which is now worth one million pounds, would make the August 24 race the strongest in years – and strongest yet as a Cup guide.
Speaking on Racing Pulse, Henderson said Downdraft’s defiant win was encouraging as both the Ebor and Melbourne Cup draw closer.
“He’s coming along well. (At Roscommon) he sat outside the joint favourite, one of Dermot’s (Weld) good Agha Khan horses and was able to outstay him and hold off another challenger to the line,” he said.
“It basically guarantees him a start in the Ebor and we know if you run well in the Ebor you’ve got a very good chance of coming to Melbourne and winning something.”
Henderson said the £1 million Ebor “will be much tougher event than it has been in the past, I’m sure, and horses on higher ratings will be in it and make it a great stepping stone (to Melbourne).”
He said Downdraft and Amade were ideal candidates for Flemington.
“Whether this year or next year,” he said.
“Like Amade, Downdraft has very good ringcraft which I think you need for a Melbourne Cup.”
Amade and Downdraft are $51 in early TAB markets for the Cup.
To listen to the full interview with Matt Stewart and Terry Henderson, please CLICK HERE.