British trainer Andrew Balding has his sights on having a third Melbourne Cup starter in as many years but his possible contender Coltrane could be eliminated due to Racing Victoria’s veterinary protocols.
Coltrane ($3.50 favourite) won the £52,000 (A$90,000) Listed Coral Marathon (3264m) by ten lengths at Sandown (UK) on Friday, his second consecutive victory following last month’s £100,000 (A$175,000) Ascot Stakes (4014m) during Royal Ascot.
“Australia is a possibility, but we’ll have to see about the veterinary protocols because he’s had some joint surgery. He seems sound now and will certainly have an entry, but we’ll see nearer the time,” Balding said after the Coral Marathon.
“He is in the Goodwood Cup and that is a possibility. Lonsdale, Doncaster Cup, all those sort of races (are potential targets).”
Coltrane didn’t race as a juvenile and won three of six three-year-old starts, including the 2020 Melrose Handicap (2787m) which is a lucrative three-year-old handicap during York’s Ebor Festival.
The son of Mastercraftsman then missed the bulk of his four-year-old season due to a tendon injury which saw him absent from the racetrack for 13 months. Balding advised media following Coltrane’s Ascot Stakes win that vets inserted ‘a plate and some screws’ from the injury.
Racing Victoria introduced 41 recommendations ahead of the 2021 Melbourne Spring Carnival focused on reducing the rate of injuries sustained by international horses during the Spring Carnival over the past decade with primary focus on the Melbourne Cup.
One of the rulings enforced during last year’s Melbourne Spring Carnival, and still applies this year, pertained to the exclusion of horses travelling and entering Werribee’s International Horse Centre regardless of their current health and soundness should they have had ‘a previous major fracture or orthopaedic surgery’.
“He has been threatening to get his confidence back because he had a nasty injury which has just taken him a couple of runs to find his confidence. He won the Melrose and was very impressive that day, and he looked right back to his best there,” Balding said after the Coral Marathon.
Coltrane is owned by Mick and Janice Mariscotti, enthusiasts of racing staying horses. The couple were the original owners of the Balding-trained Dashing Willoughby prior to selling a majority stake to New Zealand businessman Sir Owen Glenn.
Dashing Willoughby finished 21st in the 2020 Melbourne Cup at his final start for Balding. Spanish Mission also departed Balding’s care following his third to Verry Elleegant in the 2021 Melbourne Cup.