South­ern France a big chance for Dance

Mercury (Hobart) - - RACING - NATHAN EXELBY

AF­TER miss­ing out on a horse that went on to win the most prestigiou­s race in Europe this year, top trainer Ciaron Ma­her and suc­cess­ful syn­di­ca­tor Dar­ren Dance be­lieve their se­cond pick, South­ern France, is still go­ing to be good enough to win to­day’s Mel­bourne Cup.

Ma­her has es­tab­lished him­self as one of the lead­ing train­ers in the land, but his Mel­bourne Cup cup­board is bare.

Dance’s flu­o­res­cent yel­low colours have been more prom­i­nent in the great race — and have come very close — but he too is still try­ing to get his hands on the most cov­eted tro­phy in rac­ing.

To­gether, the pair hope to change their Mel­bourne Cup for­tunes to­day.

Ma­her, who now trains in part­ner­ship with David Eus­tace, has had just two Cup run­ners – Mr O’Ceirin was 21st as a 200-1 pop in 2014, be­fore Jameka dis­ap­pointed to fin­ish 15th in 2016.

Dance has fin­ished se­cond (with Heart­break City in 2016), third (Jakkalberr­y in 2012) and fifth (Dandino in 2013) un­der his Aus­tralian Thor­ough­bred Blood­stock ban­ner.

“When Ciaron ap­proached me back in May about find­ing a Cup horse, I said to him I don’t just want to buy any horse. If I can’t run top five, I don’t want to buy one,” Dance said.

“I said to Ciaron there was one other horse and if I couldn’t buy it, I wouldn’t buy any­thing. And that was South­ern France.

“He’s got form around Stradi­var­ius, his last run he fin­ished ahead of Cross Counter at level weights, he beat Down­draft which won [Satur­day], he’s beaten La­trobe and all those horses. He’s got the Agrade form, which is what I was look­ing for.”

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