The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

Wyche cup and Flemington

- – Josh Miller

The biggest day of Australian racing is upon us on Saturday when Flemington will host Derby Day, featuring four Group One races in the first leg of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

For racing fans, this is like Christmas Day. Less spoken about, however, just 273 kilometres away from the roses and glamour of Flemington, a race predating the WS Cox Plate will be run – the time-honoured Mt Wycheproof Cup.

It is one of the most iconic and enjoyable country race meetings of the year, one every race fan should have on the bucket list.

This year’s program attracted a whopping 297 nomination­s and it is little wonder why; the track is looking superb. Good rain, tireless volunteers and a fancy new mower has the racing surface peaking at the right time.

Though the prizemoney on offer falls a little short of our city counterpar­ts, it is well-worth tuning in for a look at this fantastic race day.

It looks a competitiv­e card too, but it always pays to save a little of your punting money and invest in the Austy Coffey runners throughout the day. He’s trained a winner or two there over the years.

Paul Preusker’s stable star Lunar Fox is out to win his second Group One prize in the $2-million Canatala Stakes at Flemington on Saturday.

The four-year-old son of Foxwedge, who lined our pockets with cash after winning the Australian Guineas last year at astronomic­al odds of $301, is coming off a solid sixth at Caulfield three weeks ago in the Group One Toorak Handicap. He looks set to peak at his fourth run this preparatio­n. This 1600-metre event is the main goal for him this spring and back to Flemington will suit – we won’t get the mammoth price again, but in a competitiv­e race he’s sure to be value.

Looking ahead to Tuesday, Horsham hoop Dean Yendall is likely to partner Future Score in the $7.75-million Melbourne Cup.

The lightweigh­t jockey will ride at just 51.5kg for the Matt Cumani-trained galloper, who is stepping out to the 3200-metre distance for the first time.

Building towards the cup with three tough runs this time in, the seven-year-old gelding will start one of the outsiders of the 24-horse field but has a good fitness base heading into the big race.

Yendall said he had fielded inquiries from connection­s of two other runners, but is expected to stick with Future Score, who is a surprise acceptor for the race.

“Connection­s didn’t expect to make it to this situation with him,” Yendall said.

“There’s a bonus for accepting in the Melbourne Cup, but not making the field that carries over to the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, which is where we thought we’d be.” Trainer Cumani echoed those thoughts. “The Queen Elizabeth is probably a more suitable race for him, but he’s tracking along nicely and we can’t turn an opportunit­y like this down,” he said.

Cumani is confident his galloper will put in a strong performanc­e and threw his support behind Yendall to ride him in the cup.

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