Ciaron Maher is naturally disappointed dual Cox Plate placegetter Humidor has been snubbed by the Moonee Valley Racing Club committee for a spot in this year’s field.
But all hope is not lost, with Humidor the first reserve to get a start should any of the 14 runners be scratched before Saturday.
The MVRC committee made the difficult choice on Tuesday to omit Humidor from the capacity 14-horse field for Saturday’s $5 million race, with the multiple Group One-winning gelding the first of four emergencies.
A lack of recent form played against Humidor who has not won this spring since returning from injury but his co-trainer Maher believes there’s a sense of timing about the gelding’s preparation which he had tailored to have him peaking on Saturday.
Humidor was a close second to Winx in 2017 and third last year and he turned in a sharp gallop at The Valley on Tuesday.
“It’s very disappointing,” Maher said.
“We know he flies around here and there’s just a sense of timing.
“I reckon he showed that this morning on the track and he’s just built throughout the preparation. You always aim to have them right for their main day, so it’s disappointing for the stable and the connections.
“But it would be a tough job, I would imagine.
“It is what it is.
“You don’t look back. You only look forward. You never know, he might get in yet.”
While Humidor, Mr Quickie, Gailo Chop and international visitor Dream Castle are the emergencies, exciting New Zealand gelding Te Akau Shark and three-year-old colt Castelvecchio will get their chances in the race.
“We wouldn’t be here if we were just having a throw at the stumps. We’re here to win the race,” Castelvecchio’s trainer Richard Litt said after the colt had his first look around the course in a gallop on Tuesday.
“We’re here to give it a good shake.”
Te Akau Shark’s trainer Jamie Richards had mixed emotions after the last-start Epsom Handicap runner-up made the field but came up with the outside barrier.
“It’s great to get the horse into the race but it just makes it really difficult from the outside,” Richards said.
“We’ve just got to have a look at things and work it out as best as we can. But we’ve got a fit, happy and healthy horse that galloped well here this morning and we’ll prepare him as best we can.
“He really is in great shape though.”
Trainer Chris Waller has Kings Will Dream and Verry Elleegant in the field as he chases a fifth-straight Cox Plate after Winx’s four in a row.
Syndicator Wylie Dalziel, who is in the ownership of Mr Quickie, said his natural reaction to the gelding being second emergency was also one of disappointment.
“We’re a bit flat, but we just get up off the canvas and move on,” Dalziel said.
Star Japanese mare Lys Gracieux drifted from $3.20 to $3.60 after drawing 15, but she will start from 11 if the emergencies miss out.
Lys Gracieux is still a clear-cut favourite to give Japan another feature win in Melbourne this spring after Mer De Glace’s Caulfield Cup success.