Trainer Luca Cumani says he has made his most determined bid ever to win the Melbourne Cup this year.
The England-based Italian has pronounced his two runners for Tuesday’s race, Mount Athos and My Quest For Peace, his best hopes of finally winning the trophy.
And he says the Cup is now so strong that had he come with horses he had competed with in his earlier attempts they would never have won a spot in the field.
“It gets stronger every year,” Cumani said on Sunday.
“I’ve been coming seven years now and if I was to come back with the horses I brought in the first few years they wouldn’t have even made the cut.”
He described Mount Athos and My Quest for Peace as “the two strongest horses that I’ve brought’, comparing them to Purple Moon who finished second in the 2007 Melbourne Cup behind Efficient.
“They’re probably similar to Purple Moon,” he said.
“He was a horse on the way up as well. He hadn’t run in a Group race before he came here and then he became a solid Group One horse.
“So I’m hoping these two are on a par with him – and he didn’t do too badly.”
My Quest for Peace heads to the $6 million Cup after finishing fifth of 18 runners in last month’s Caulfield Cup, a result which drew some criticism but not from Cumani.
“I thought he ran very well because we were a bit closer to the pace than we would have liked and, if you look at the first six throughout the race, the other five all finished out the back and he was the only one that was still there and was only beaten a length and three quarters in the end,” he said.
“And I reckon he’s come on from that race.”
Cumani said he was pleased with his barrier draws of gate one for My Quest For Peace and especially eight for Mount Athos.
“We’re very happy about the barrier draw. I think because it gives the jockey options to go inside or outside.
“If you’re drawn too wide you’ve got no option, if you’re drawn too low, again, you don’t have a lot of options.”
He was philosophical about barrier one for My Quest For Peace, saying “one is better than a higher number”.