Relaxed Cumani back on cup trail
Newmarket handler looking to end run of seconds
Last Updated: November 2, 2012 9:30am
Mount Athos: Going for glory Down Under
Luca Cumani has been repeating a well-chosen phrase in Australia this week as he is repeatedly asked whether this will finally be his year in the Emirates Melbourne Cup.
While his daughter, Francesca, enjoys almost A-list celebrity status in the country and is a presenter on national television during the Spring Carnival, Cumani himself is similarly revered for his prowess as a trainer.
Galling seconds with Purple Moon and Bauer in 2007 and 2008 respectively have only spurred the Italian on further, usually marking out potential Cup candidates early in the year and campaigning them accordingly.
He would appear to have a particularly strong hand this time around through Mount Athos and Quest For Peace, who runs as My Quest For Peace in Australia.
"I always say that when it comes to women and horses, you can never be confident, only hopeful for the best," said Cumani.
As Cumani has learned through painful experience, the horses can be ready to start in their strongest shape but the most careful of plans can never take into account the luck required in the absurdly competitive 24-horse showdown.
Owner Dr Marwan Koukash has arrived in Melbourne to see Mount Athos, one of the big-race favourites after winning all three starts for Cumani in two handicaps and the Geoffrey Freer at Newbury.
But My Quest For Peace went notably well in his final piece of work at the Werribee quarantine centre this week and has the benefit of a recent run when fifth to Dunaden in the Caufield Cup.
"Mount Athos is a bit of an unknown quantity, a bit of a dark horse slipping in under the radar," Cumani said.
"He has probably improved with age, as most of us do.
"If you look at his profile, he won first time out for me, then he didn't run again for two months.
"He likes to run fresh and he seems happy and well."
Nor does Cumani worry about Mount Athos' jockey Ryan Moore never having ridden in the country before.
"Ryan knows the horse and he's a young guy who's very cool and won't be fazed. He's very, very committed," he said.
My Quest For Peace is much longer in the betting, but the trainer is keen not to rule him out either.
He said: "They are both equally as good.
"Both have Group form in England, may the best horse win."
If it does, the Australians should not worry too much about Cumani drawing his Cup love affair to a close.
"Ever since I came I thought it was the best race meeting of the year, anywhere in the world, and I got the bug. I wish I hadn't!" he said.
Godolphin team in good shape
Trainer Saeed bin Suroor believes Cavalryman is getting into the shape to make a serious impression on Tuesday.
The Godolphin trainer has been a regular Australian visitor at this time of year, and jetted in on Thursday night in order to inspect both possible Cup runners.
While Lost In The Moment may have to settle with a consolation start next week if he misses the cut, Frankie Dettori will have one of his final big-race rides for Godolphin before he goes freelance next season.
Cavalryman used to take in important middle-distance events before he showed ability as a potential stayer with a Listed victory at Sandown in July.
Bin Suroor said: "The way he won the two-mile race and showed he stayed the trip, it gave us confidence to send him here.
"Last year's winner (Dunaden) is the horse to beat but Cavalryman has improved and he will run a huge race."
Referring to Dettori's possible final Godolphin appearance, Bin Suroor said: "To see him win the Cup would be great. I wish him the best of luck."
Lost In The Moment was sixth a year ago but the trainer is pleased with the condition of Kerrin McEvoy's possible mount.
Bin Suroor said: "He has improved since last year.
"He was a bit skinny but this year has gained some weight, he is much better and his form is better."
Another recent arrival has been Ed Dunlop, who watched last year's narrow runner-up Red Cadeaux complete his final piece of work over a mile of the Werribee quarantine track.
"He wasn't out to do a lot and I'm rather pleased with him," Dunlop said.