Melbourne Cup aspirations for New Zealand Derby hero

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Asterix

Trainers Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott are eyeing a tilt at the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) in spring with Asterix after his victory in the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on Saturday.

The son of Tavistock took out the NZD$1 million feature after a light preparation and his conditioners have elected to send him to the spelling paddock to give him time to mature ahead of spring.

“Andrew and I sat down with one of the part-owners, Sam Kelt, this morning and Sam’s dream has always been to have a runner in a Melbourne Cup,” O’Sullivan said.

“We decided the best thing we can do for the horse would be to put him in the paddock now. He has only had the four runs, he is not overtaxed.

“He is still a very immature horse and we are hoping all going well that we will end up in the Melbourne Cup this year.

“It is a bit of a dream but those are our hopes at this stage.”

Lightly raced, with the two victories from four starts, O’Sullivan said that wasn’t done by plan.

“We didn’t have any choice,” he said. “One thing after the other went wrong. It was just immaturity problems with his feet and shins.

“Ideally, we would have liked to have given him another mile before we ran him at Tauranga, and also an extra run over ground.

“He is a pretty light-framed horse and if there was going to be a horse that could get away with it (light preparation), it was him.

“Andrew and my biggest concern going into the race was his lack of experience out there on the track.

“We just hoped that when he started to go around the field that he wasn’t going to run away from them and do things right, which he did. Once he loomed up at the 300m we had no doubts that he would keep on coming. Running the distance was the least of our worries.

“He had a very light prep and the horse had to have a lot of natural ability to get away with it and do what he did.”

O’Sullivan is confident his charge will see out the two-mile distance of the Melbourne Cup, but he said there is always a query.

“We think he will run a long way,” he said. “We believe he will run the two miles, but until you try them you can’t be too sure.

“He is bred as though he would run the two miles and all indications at this stage suggest he will.

“If we get a bit of cut in the ground he has shown at home that he is certainly at home in those conditions.”

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