A mixture of desperation, necessity and some impressive trackwork has added weight to the prospects of all three of the international runners in Saturday’s Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield.
Bauer from the powerful Luca Cumani stable and the Brian Ellison-trained pair Moyenne Corniche and Saptapadi run in the Group Two race, the first time it has been part of an international Cups campaign.
All three horses need to win the Herbert Power and receive a penalty to be sure of a Caulfield or Melbourne Cup start.
And on their form in training at the Werribee quarantine centre, all three are entitled to consideration.
For the second time this week, Bauer indicated his fitness with a strong gallop in company with his stablemates Manighar and Drunken Sailor on Thursday.
That work followed a similarly impressive effort two days earlier with race jockey Damien Oliver up.
A notoriously bad traveller, Bauer has come through his third trip to Australia in his best condition yet and Terry Henderson who manages the Australian syndicate that owns the gelding is delighted with his progress.
“Obviously he has had his troubles in the past, but this time he has recovered really well,” Henderson said.
Bauer, the Geelong Cup winner and Melbourne Cup runner-up in 2008, has to win and receive a penalty if he is to qualify.
“We’ll try to qualify him on Saturday and if he misses out there we’ll have to have a think about the options,” Henderson said.
“We’re conscious of his age and the problems he’s had, so we’ll just do our best for him.”
Bauer will carry 57kg on Saturday as will the other English pair, Saptapadi and Moyenne Corniche, who repeated their strong work of earlier in the week in a gallop at Werribee on Thursday.
For the second time Saptapadi had the better of his stablemate, but a wide draw has made it difficult for Ellison to split his pair.
“I’d have thought Saptapadi had the better chance on a track like Caulfield, but we’d have been happier with a better gate,” he said.
“Moyenne Corniche has a brilliant finish, but he’ll probably get back a bit further.”
Like Bauer, they both need a penalty to lift them in the order of entry into the Cups.
Also on show at Caulfield on Saturday is the well-performed Hong Kong galloper Mighty High who has his second Australian start in the Caulfield Stakes (2000m).
Mighty High finished third in his Australian debut at Caulfield two weeks ago and has shown considerable improvement in his work since.
Prepared by Hong Kong’s most successful-ever trainer John Moore, Mighty High will again be ridden by Darren Beadman who will return to partner the gelding in Saturday week’s Caulfield Cup.
The Caulfield Stakes is also being used to test another Cumani runner, Sahara Sun.
Another who runs in Henderson OTI syndicate colours, Sahara Sun adds another international dimension to the Melbourne spring.
The Chilean four-year-old won three races in his home country including a Group Two over 2000m in the slick time of 1:59.6.
He also finished second in the Chilean Derby before joining the Cumani stable and having one run in England before coming to Australia.
Henderson said thought would be given to a Cox Plate start for Sahara Sun if he runs well on Saturday, otherwise he will be aimed at the Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington on Derby Day and is then likely to return to England.