After another stylish win in the UK, Luca Cumani’s Mount Athos has assumed Melbourne Cup favouritism
Mount Athos is the new TAB Sportsbet favourite for the Emirates Melbourne Cup following his stylish victory in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes (2600m) at Newbury (UK) on Saturday night (AET).
The UK-trained galloper, who opened at $71 and is now unbeaten in three starts for premier trainer Luca Cumani, had his price slashed from $26 to $17 for Australia’s greatest race, which will be run on 6 November at Flemington.
Dr Marwan Koukash, one of England’s most prominent and successful owners, declared his in-form horse was bound for Melbourne after the runaway win.
“Melbourne here we come!” Koukash told the media post-race. “That was fantastic, beating Group 1 horses. I always had confidence in him. He will go into quarantine and go to Australia early.”
Mount Athos, ridden by Ryan Moore, won the Freer on good to firm ground by 3.25 lengths from another Spring Carnival nominee, Brown Panther, with 4 lengths further back to last year’s Melbourne Cup runner Modun in third.
English St Leger winner Masked Marvel, who was tipped to feature amongst next month’s Melbourne Cup entries, was a somewhat disappointing fourth.
The win was Moore’s 100th this season and Mount Athos was trimmed to as short as 10/1 for the Cup with some English bookmaking firms.
Moore was impressed with the performance and said the win was even easier than it looked.
“It was a tough race,” he said. “They went off quite hard and we were racing from a long way out. I was in front sooner than I’d wanted but he got the job done very well.’
Moore said that Mount Athos had a superior turn of foot and his blend of speed and stamina makes him the right type of horse to potentially end the heartbreak Cumani has experienced in Melbourne with his two Cup runners-up Purple Moon (2007) and Bauer (2008).
Cumani, who was stuck in traffic and couldn’t make it to Newbury in time to see the race, said: “I listened to it and it sounded like an ideal prep for Melbourne. Let’s just hope the handicapper isn’t unkind to him.”
By Steve Moran