Best 'roughie' in the race

AIDAN RODLEY IN MELBOURNE
Last updated 11:56 05/11/2012

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Luca Cumani believes Mount Athos is the horse who can win him his first Melbourne Cup.

And the Newmarket trainer also believes he has the best ''roughie'' in the race in My Quest For Peace.

Cumani is determined to win the Melbourne Cup, having twice run second, with Purple Moon in 2007 and Bauer in 2008.

While careful not to split his two horses, Cumani revealed his ideal barrier to start from in the Cup was barrier eight, the gate from which Mount Athos will start from tomorrow.

Rated a progressive stayer well weighted at 54kg, Mount Athos was the early favourite for the Melbourne Cup before the money for Caulfield Cup winner Dunaden and then 2010 Melbourne Cup winner Americain came in the past two weeks.

Raced by multi-millionaire electronic engineering entrepreneur Marwin Koukash, Montjeu six-year-old gelding Mount Athos has won seven of his 20 starts, including his last three straight, culminating with a 3 1/4-length win in the Gr III Geoffrey Freer Stakes (2670m) at Newbury.

My Quest For Peace has won five of his 12 starts and finished a gallant fifth in the Gr I Caulfield Cup (2400m) last month.

''I like them both and both horses are very well. They are the two strongest horses that I've brought down for the Melbourne Cup,'' he said.

''They're probably similar to Purple Moon. He was a horse on the way up as well. He hadn't run in a Group race before he came here and then he became a solid Gr I horse.

''So I'm hoping these two are on a par with him - and he didn't  do too badly. I'm very pleased with the way they are training. The rest now is up to them and their jockeys.''

Corey Brown rides My Quest For Peace, while English jockey Ryan Moore flies in to ride Mount Athos.

Cumani said the Melbourne Cup was getting harder to win because it was attracting stronger fields each year but he was intent on success.

''I've won Gr I races in 10 different countries and this would mean 11. We'd like to win it one day,'' he said.

''It gets stronger every year. I've been coming here for seven years now and if I was to come here with the horses I brought when I first came down, they wouldn't even make the cut.''

Asked to identify a horse who had gone under the radar ahead of tomorrow's race, Cumani said his own horse, My Quest For Peace.

''I thought he ran very well because we were a bit closer to the pace then we would have liked and you have a look at the first six in the race, the other five have all finished out the back and he was the only horse still there, only beaten a length and three-quarters.''

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Koukash raced Munsef, who finished 12th in 2009 Melbourne Cup, and he said that experience had spurred him into finding a horse capable of winning the race.

''Every owner in the world dreams of having a runner in the Melbourne Cup. We achieved that three years ago when we brought Munsef down,'' he said.

''But when you come here and you experience having a runner in the Cup, you start having what I call the nightmare and you have to find a horse more than capable of winning.''

Koukash said Mount Athos was a horse that fitted that bill.

''We've got a major chance. For a Melbourne Cup, you need a horse that is capable of winning over a mile and a half, has got a turn of foot and stays the two miles - and we've got all of those three credentials covered with Mount Athos.

''He's got a great turn of foot and I think he will go very, very close.''

- Waikato

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