Irish Leger finish sharpens Cup picture
IRISH star Kew Gardens is unlikely to contest the Melbourne Cup despite leading home six fellow Cup entrants in the Irish St Leger at The Curragh.
Reports out of Ireland suggest trainer Aidan O'Brien won't travel the high-class stayer to Australia after he was allocated 58kg topweight for the Cup.
Winner of last season's English St Leger, Kew Gardens is on the third line of TAB Cup betting at $26.
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He is likely to stay in Europe after a grinding second in the 2816m Irish St Leger behind Dermot Weld's filly Search For A Song, who is not a Cup entry.
The next five behind Kew Gardens - Southern France, last year's Cup winner Cross Counter, Master Of Reality, Latrobe and Twilight Payment - are all bound for Melbourne.
They are expected to arrive in the second shipment of Europeans in mid-October.
Cross Counter's trainer Charlie Appleby has indicated he will accept handicapper Greg Carpenter's challenge to return despite being asked to carry 57.5kg, 6kg more than he had when winning last year.
Cross Counter, who started the 6-4 favourite on Sunday, stayed on well to be beaten four lengths in fourth.
With Kew Gardens almost certain to miss the Cup, Cross Counter will likely sit at the top of the weights as he bids to join Archer, Rain Lover, Think Big and Makybe Diva as a multiple winner of the race.
Lloyd Williams will chase a seventh Cup from an imposing arsenal that includes Master Of Reality, Latrobe, Twilight Payment, Yucatan, Johannes Vermeer and Homesman.
The first shipment of Europeans will arrive in Melbourne on September 28.
The 18-strong contingent has entered quarantine at Side Hill Stud in Newmarket, England.
They will join Japan's Suzuka Devious, Meiner Fanrong and Meiner Wunsch, who are due to arrive at Werribee next Tuesday.
Of the 24 arrivals, 16 will be eligible to compete at Caulfield on October 12. The other eight will be free to race from October 15.
The second batch of Europeans is expected on October 12.
They would be eligible to race two weeks later.
BEGOOD READY TO DELIVER
Begood Toya Mother's winning streak of six ended in the Group 1 weight-for-age Memsie Stakes 19 days ago.
But trainer Daniel Bowman says he saw enough to indicate the gelding is on track for his short and long-term goals.
Begood Toya Mother's immediate aim is Saturday's Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield, a race for which he was set four months ago.
And Bowman is confident Begood Toya Mother will be to the fore in a race such as the Memsie in a year's time.
He was concerned the five-year-old might struggle to gain a run in the 1400m Rupert Clarke, but he is 16th in the ballot order from just 18 nominations. The field limit is 16.
Bowman was rapt with Begood Toya Mother's sixth, beaten just under three lengths, in the 1400m Memsie.
"He was fired up into the headwind and he was doing sectionals of 11 seconds per 200m," Bowman said. "If he'd just come back a length or a length and a half, it would have made a difference.
"But he wouldn't have won, he just would have finished a length to a length and a half closer to the winner.
"Going into that race, I thought he'd need another six to 12 months before he was ready for a race like that, as he lacks a bit of craftsmanship and can still do things wrong, and that's what happened."
Bowman was thrilled with Begood Toya Mother's trackwork at Casterton on Monday.
"I think he's ready to peak. His coat is really coming through," he said.
Begood Toya Mother comes back to a handicap and will carry 52kg on Saturday.
Jockey Declan Bates, who normally rides at 54kg, will get down to 52.5kg.
"It was funny. No one was circling for the ride when he was winning but as soon as he lost there were a few inquiries," he said.
With Michael Manley