Leading Cups contender Constantinople left David Hayes and Luke Nolen delighted following his trackwork gallop with stablemate Cape of Good Hope at Spendthrift Australia Park on Monday morning.
The two Northern Hemisphere three-year-olds formerly trained by Aidan O’Brien had their most significant gallop since arriving at Werribee’s International Horse Centre eight days ago.
Constantinople, ridden by Nolen, led the gallop with Cape of Good Hope sitting off his stablemate as they did even time down the back straight. The pair quickened over their final 600 metres with Cape of Good Hope clicked up to join Constantinople at the winning post.
“I’m very pleased with how they worked, I like the way Constantinople is going about his work,” Hayes said before confirming that Mark Zahra would ride Cape of Good Hope in Saturday’s $1m Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m).
Constantinople appeared strong past the line under Nolen, the 39-year-old jockey providing minimal encouragement throughout.
“His work this morning was really good,” Nolen said. “It was the third time I’ve been on him and I’m getting to know him a bit better too.
“I really like the way he pins the ears back and finds the line. He seems to be a really intelligent horse so we’re working each other out a bit.”
Constantinople has sweated up pre-race, raced keenly and waywardly when placed under pressure when runner-up in his past two starts in the G3 Gordon Stakes (2414m) and G2 Great Voltigeur (2385m).
“I think that was probably caused by inexperience, he’s probably grown up a lot on this trip as a result. Everything you ask of him he is more than willing to do,” Nolen said.
Nolen believes that the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup will suit Constantinople in different ways, citing his ability to absorb high-pressure as a necessity of the Caulfield Cup whilst also being suited by the big spaces of Flemington for the 3200-metre contest over two weeks later.
The immediate challenge for Nolen, who usually rides no less than 54kg, will be partnering Constantinople at 53kg in the Caulfield Cup and a half-kilo less for the Melbourne Cup.
“My weight is really good, I’ll ride him in a pounder (saddle)… maybe not that well,” Nolen quipped.
“The weight is coming off me pretty good and I’m relishing the opportunity to have a live chance in the Caulfield Cup.
“Hopefully we can get a small penalty for winning the Caulfield Cup so he doesn’t carry too lighter weight in the Melbourne Cup.”
Constantinople will have one more ‘serious’ hitout before the Caulfield Cup, possibly between races as an exhibition gallop on Caulfield Guineas day this Saturday pending approval from Melbourne Racing Club officials.
Constantinople is an $11 equal second favourite for the Caulfield Cup behind Finche and Mer de Glace at $9. The son of Galileo is a $13 third favourite for the Melbourne Cup behind Surprise Baby ($9) and Finche ($11).