Prominent owner Richard Pegum has his sights set on the Melbourne Cup with exciting prospect Scriptwriter after the son of Churchill produced a promising performance in England over the weekend.
Formerly with Aidan O’Brien and now trained by Milton Harris, the versatile stayer has spent much of his career racing over hurdles, before switching back to the flat for Royal Ascot, where he finished seventh in the Copper Horse Handicap, 12-and-three-quarter lengths behind Vauban.
The Australian ownership group The Ashes syndicate bought him shortly before Royal Ascot, utilising Pegum’s knowledge of and contacts in the English racing scene, and with a special occasion in mind.
“My business partner is Paul Henry and we bought him to run at Royal Ascot for his 50th birthday,” Pegum said.
“We got in there quite quickly and bought him, thinking there’s a fair bit of improvement in the horse.
“He’s hardly run any races on the flat – he’s a good type, he’s well bred, I think Coolmore paid about a quarter of a million for him
Looking ahead to future targets, the Ebor Handicap (2800m) back at York next month remains the aim.
The race has previously been used as a stepping stone to the first Tuesday in November and has now been elevated to win-and-you’re-in status, becoming the only international race to offer the winner automatic entry into the Melbourne Cup, whilst any placegetter from the golden-ticket race or a Group 1 race held over 2000m or further will pass the first ballot.
“He’ll go to the Ebor and he’s booked on the plane to come down in September,” Pegum confirmed.
During his time racing over hurdles, the horse won over both 3300m and 3400m, which raises Pegum’s hopes that he will be a strong chance for the Melbourne Cup.
“Distance won’t be a problem,” he said.
“He’s really suited for the Melbourne Cup.
“There are very few horses that can really win Melbourne Cups and you need them to be able to stay – and this horse has proven that he can.”
The Australian ownership group plans for the gelding to remain Down Under, with plenty of big-race targets in mind both before and after Melbourne Cup.
“There’s a plethora of million-dollar races … the Sydney Cup, who knows – we’ll wait and see,” he said.
“We might even send him up first-up to go to the King Charles III race.”
Unsurprisingly, Scriptwriter has already captured the attention of Australian trainers.
“We’ve got a number of offers coming in at the moment, so we’ll just see what happens,” Pegum said.