First impressions proved as large as they were strong for Kerrin McEvoy when he put his Melbourne Cup hope Modun through his paces at Werribee on Thursday.
McEvoy was introduced to Modun, a newcomer to the Godolphin stable, in what was his final piece of fast work before Tuesday’s race.
A five-year-old who has raced only eight times, Modun will be the least experienced and at a tick over 17 hands, the biggest horse in the Cup.
But according to McEvoy it is his quality that impresses him most.
“He’s got some class for a lightly-raced horse,” McEvoy said.
“Lightly-raced horses with quality can overcome hurdles.”
All of Modun’s previous racing had been done under the guidance of Sir Michael Stoute who won three races with the horse, the best of them his last-start win in a Group Three race over 2400m at Kempton.
But McEvoy said the effort that appealed to him most came three starts back when Modun finished a close second over 2000m at Goodwood.
“He looked the winner and one got up on the rails and touched him off,” McEvoy said.
“I took some confidence from that.”
Modun also ran well in one of England’s biggest handicaps, the Ebor (2800m) at York in which he finished a close fourth to another Melbourne Cup hopeful, Moyenne Corniche.
The next three horses behind Modun in that race were Saptapadi, Fox Hunt and Lost In The Moment, who are also Melbourne Cup entries.
For McEvoy, who won the Cup in 2000 on Brew, victory on Modun would have special meaning after three losing rides in the race for Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum’s Godolphin stable.
“It would be a dream come true,” he said.
“To win for Sheikh Mohammed and the team would be a great thrill after all the opportunities they’ve given me.”
Modun galloped over 1400m at Werribee on Thursday, leaving Lost in The Moment well behind, although that’s where trainer Saeed bin Suroor said he wanted him to be.
Modun has surprised the trainer who, like McEvoy, has negligible experience of the horse.
“I was surprised to see him so well here in Melbourne,” he said.
“Physically and mentally he is really well – 100 per cent ready.”
Other English runners Jukebox Jury and Fox Hunt also turned in their strongest work on Thursday, the Mark Johnston-trained pair turning in two pieces over 2000m with a walk of the same distance in between.