Athens aims for Cup double
IT might only be early March but already trainer Brian MayfieldSmith has the spring on his mind.
Mayfield-Smith will start Road To Athens in the Group Two Adelaide Cup (3200m) on Monday and is using the race as a pointer to the Redoute’s Choice gelding’s Melbourne Cup prospects.
Mayfield-Smith has made it no secret a Melbourne Cup win would fulfil his training career.
The master horseman went close in 2006 when Maybe Better was beaten only by the Japanese duo Delta Blues and Pop Rock.
And then Maybe Better’s attempt to win the race that stops the nation last year was left in tatters when he had to be scratched on race morning.
Mayfield-Smith said Monday’s Adelaide Cup was a good chance for him to see if Road To Athens can join Maybe Better on a Melbourne Cup trail in the Spring.
The Adelaide Cup has been a target of his for a while because I wanted to find a lesser option over two miles to see how he could shape up looking ahead to the spring,’’ Mayfield-Smith said.
The Melbourne Cupis definitely a race I want to win. It’s getting harder to win every year but you can’t give up.
I have got pretty limited chances compared to some others but I’ve just got to keep throwingmyhat into the ring every year.’’
Road To Athens was an eyecatcher in the Lord Reims Stakes last start, rattling home at the end of 2600m from near the tail of the field to finish third behind other Cup fancies Exalted Ego and Saddler’s Story.
It showed he can run a very strong 2600m with the task he was set,’’ Mayfield-Smith said.
But 3200m is a different ball game all together and you don’t really know how they’ll go until you run them.’’
Road To Athens travelled home after his last start in Adelaide and has done very well ahead of the Cup, pleasing his trainer with his trackwork and his appearance.
He looks really good and he’s very bright,’’ he said.
That part of it is all good.’’ What isn’t so good, however, is the barrier draw and the task he might have to be set by Corey Brown.
The gelding has drawn barrier 23 but will start from gate 20 in the 20 horse line-up after the emergencies are taken out.
When asked what he thought of his gelding’s chances, MayfieldSmith quipped: I hope he has a compass’’.
It’s going to be hard from there. He’ll have to go back because if he goes forward and commits too soon he could get caught and he’s still got 3200m to run...he’s not proven at the distance yet.’’
But, despite the barrier, MayfieldSmith refused to admit defeat and said the result would be determined by whether or not my horse gets a good run or not’’.
I would be a helluva lot keener with a better barrier. He can still win but he’ll need a terrific run. And that’s in the lap of the gods.’’