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Muntahaa starts his autumn campaign in Saturday's Australian Cup

The Melbourne Cup 2019 may be eight months away but Lindsay Park is already planning its assault on the famous two-mile handicap.

Imported stayer Muntahaa starts his autumn campaign in Saturday’s Group One Australian Cup at Flemington which the stable hopes will lead to something bigger later in the year.

Muntahaa finished ninth behind Cross Counter in last year’s Melbourne Cup when prepared by champion British trainer John Gosden.

The stayer is owned by long-term Lindsay Park client, Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Stud, which supplied the stable with imported Melbourne Cup winners At Talaq, for Colin Hayes, and Jeune, for his son David Hayes.

As they have done with a number of their imports, Lindsay Park will give Muntahaa a light autumn before looking ahead to the spring.

“This preparation is all about the Melbourne Cup,” senior trainer David Hayes said.

“We want to see how he measures up at weight-for-age and then we can plot a program after that.

“We’ll see what he does on Saturday, but I’d say he’ll be Sydney bound after Saturday’s race.”

Muntahaa will be ridden on Saturday by Mark Zahra who rode him in a Tatura trial over 1450m in January.

“He’s had a nice preparation but I think he’ll be improved,” Hayes said.

“It’s a pretty hard feat to do, win the Australian Cup first-up. It’s never been done before but he might be the horse to do it.”

Lindsay Park could have as many as five runners in Saturday’s 2000m weight-for-age race.

Harlem, last year’s surprise winner, is back to defend his title with the stable still searching for a rider.

Michael Walker, who rode the gelding to win a year ago and who has ridden him at his past two starts, is appealing the severity of a suspension and will ride in Sydney on Saturday if he gains a reprieve.

Ventura Storm, third behind his stablemate last year, will be ridden by Luke Nolen while Sikandarabad, a last-start Caulfield winner, will be ridden by Jordan Childs.

So Si Bon could be the stable’s fifth runner following his second placing to stablemate Fifty Stars in the Blamey Stakes on Saturday.

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