Mount Athos may run only once more before Melbourne Cup
Last Updated: 18/05/14 12:11pm
Mount Athos: Caulfield Cup intriguing option for him this season
Mount Athos could make just one more competitive appearance before his third bid for Melbourne Cup glory in November.
The seven-year-old has finished fifth and third in the last two renewals of the Australian showpiece when trained by Luca Cumani and switched to fellow Newmarket-based handler Italian Marco Botti earlier this year.
After a couple of creditable efforts at the Dubai Carnival, Mount Athos made a winning return to British action in Saturday's Aston Park Stakes at Newbury and owner Dr Marwan Koukash is unsurprisingly keen to see his charge head Down Under later in the year.
Botti wants to ensure the gelding is in the best possible shape for the 'race that stops a nation' and he is likely to run just once beforehand, with the Caulfield Cup an intriguing option.
Botti said: "It was a good performance and we are pleased with him.
"I have to say he is a little bit jarred up this morning. The ground was safe, but he's an older horse and maybe it had dried out a little bit too much for him, so we have to be careful from now on.
"We don't really have a plan in mind as far as his next race is concerned. Having spoken to Dr Koukash, the priority is to go for the Melbourne Cup and we will work backwards from there.
"In my opinion, I think he should have one more race before the Melbourne Cup and we should keep him fresh over the summer.
"He ran in Hong Kong in December, then he went to Dubai and then won on Saturday. It's a long year if he is going to Australia, so he needs to have a break. He doesn't need to show any more and we know what he can do.
"He could run somewhere at the end of August or early September, but we'll see. Last year, when he was with Luca Cumani, he went straight for the Melbourne Cup, but this year we are considering running him in the Caulfield Cup beforehand."
Mount Athos is unlikely to be Botti's only Melbourne Cup runner, with last year's fifth Dandino closing in on a return to action.
"He hasn't run since the Melbourne Cup because he had a setback in Hong Kong, but we are pleased with him at the moment," said the trainer.
"We had been looking at the Coronation Cup at Epsom, but that will probably come too soon and I think we will aim for the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. He ran very well to finish second in the race last year and I think we will follow a similar route."