Bart Cummings is leaning towards Illo as his best chance of winning a 13th Melbourne Cup after stablemate Precedence finished near the tail of the field in the Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington.
Cummings was looking for a better performance from Precedence with the blinkers back on him on Saturday but he was beaten almost 10 lengths into ninth place.
“I think he is looking for two miles because he’s certainly no good at a mile-and-a-quarter,” Cummings said.
Cummings was reluctant to split Precedence and his German import Illo, who was third to Americain when making his Australian debut in last Saturday’s Moonee Valley Cup, but on form has a leaning to Illo.
“It is difficult to separate them,” Cummings said.
“I know Precedence is better at two miles, and we got no guide today, but I thought he might run a bit better than he did.
“Illo might be the one to back on Tuesday.”
Illo, who arrived in Australia five weeks ago, continues to please Cummings and he says the horse will strip fitter for the Cup.
“I would be pleased if we had him a month or two earlier but considering the time he has been with us he has put on over 20 kilos in weight and he’s getting better,” he said.
“The jockey who rides him says he feels very strong under him and he’s looking better every day.
“He ran a fair race the other day over a mile-and-a-half (at Moonee Valley) but he hadn’t run for three and a half months.
“He has taken improvement from that and we might see a nice improvement in him on Tuesday.”
Cummings said he would stick with Precedence’s blinkers gear change in the Cup but added that he had won without blinkers.
“At this stage we will leave them on and see if he goes better over longer ground,” Cummings said.
“He needs further, that’s for sure, and a decent barrier.
“When he goes back he gives them too big a start.”
Precedence finished eighth in last year’s Melbourne Cup to Americain who is again the horse Cummings fears most this year.
“He is very good and pretty well weighted considering,” Cummings said.
“He’s certainly the horse we’ve all got to beat.”