Melbourne Cup favourite Americain could be a surprise runner in Saturday week’s $3 million Cox Plate following an encouraging workout at Moonee Valley on Thursday.
Connections had consistently named the Moonee Valley Cup as the horse’s lead-up to a second Melbourne Cup victory, but both owner Gerry Ryan and stable representative Stephanie Nigge said plans could be changed.
While the 2500m of the Group Two Moonee Valley Cup would seem a logical pre-Cup race for a locally-trained runner, the 2040m of the Group One Cox Plate wouldn’t be an issue for Americain.
“The distance is not so important for him,” Nigge said.
“It depends on the horse, how he is in the next week.”
Ryan, who has two outstanding Melbourne Cup prospects, said the final decision rests on a communication between the horse and its handler who will then inform trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre who will remain in France until the weekend before the Cup.
“The horse will tell Stephanie and she will talk to the trainer,” Ryan said.
“The aim is the Melbourne Cup, it’s not my decision.”
Americain worked over 2000m at the Valley and handled the track without any problem.
Jockey Brad Rawiller provided a positive report to connections and supported the Cox Plate proposal.
Rawiller said the likelihood of a fast pace in the Cox Plate, thanks to the presence in the field of the three-year-old Helmet, would suit Americain.
“With the pace on, the Cox Plate could be a good race for him,” Rawiller said.
“He handled the track really well today, there’s no problem there.
“I’d be very happy to ride him.”
That wish won’t be granted for Rawiller with last year’s Cup-winning jockey Gerald Mosse having received a release from the Hong Kong Jockey Club to ride Americain in whichever race he runs.
Nigge said she was pleased with the work and the way in which Americain handled the Valley’s tight home turn.
“He was on the bridle all the way and he wasn’t changing legs. He worked very well,” she said.
While the choice confronting connections will focus mainly on the two Moonee Valley races, Nigge said Americain would remain among the entries for next week’s Geelong Cup, a race he won last year on the way to his Flemington victory.
While Americain holds favouritism for the Melbourne Cup, Ryan will also be represented by the English stayer Jukebox Jury who arrives in Melbourne on Saturday.
Ryan bought a half-share in Jukebox Jury after he won the Prix Kergorlay (3000m) in France in August.
The horse has since won the Irish St Leger and is on the third line of Cup betting at $15.