Racing: Trainers have a spring in step as Cup Day looms

MELBOURNE - The loss of one of his most promising horses in a road accident has not dampened Adelaide trainer Leon Macdonald's enthusiasm about Melbourne Cup contender Rebel Raider.

One of the stable's rising 3-year-olds was hit by a taxi outside Morphettville racetrack last week and subsequently destroyed.

On the bright side, Rebel Raider is steadily working towards fulfilling Macdonald's Melbourne Cup dream and will resume racing next month.

One of the early favourites for last year's cup, the dual Derby winner suffered a leg injury at trackwork a day after weights were declared.

He recovered with the aid of surgery and a lot of work on the water walker and had a short autumn campaign to keep him fit.

The plan Macdonald had in place for Rebel Raider's 2009 spring is the one he will follow this year.

"He has been back in work for six or seven weeks and will resume over 1400m in the Penny Edition at Morphettville next month," Macdonald told the Herald Sun.

"He will go to Melbourne after that and follow exactly what was going to happen last year with three weight-for-age runs into the Caulfield Cup.

"Everything is good with him and his leg is good. He has thickened up a little bit but still has the same temperament and shows no signs of being bullish.

"He's a gentle giant."

After the Penny Edition on August 21, Rebel Raider will head to Melbourne for the Makybe Diva (1600m), the Underwood Stakes (1800m) and the Turnbull Stakes (2000m) before the Caulfield Cup on October 16.

Joining Rebel Raider in Melbourne will be five-time stakes winner Majestic Music whose aim will be the Myer Classic (1600m) on October 30.

* In Victoria, dual group one winner Whobegotyou is back in training in preparation for the spring.

The Mark Kavanagh-trained 4-year-old was given a few weeks to recover after he stripped flesh from a hind tendon when unplaced in the Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm on June 12.

Stable manager Merv Harvey said Whobegotyou's injury had healed well and the Street Cry gelding had arrived from Queensland at Rockmount pre-training facility at Euroa to spend the next two weeks on the water walker.

"He arrived there on Thursday and he looks in really good order and the leg is fine," Harvey said.

"He will spend a couple of weeks on the water walker and then come to Flemington."

Harvey said Whobegotyou would follow a weight-for-age campaign in the spring but would be entered for all the major spring races, including the Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup.

He said Whobegotyou could resume as early as next month.

"It just depends on how he comes up but he is a pretty clean-winded horse and has only had three weeks in the paddock. He won't take long to come to hand.

"The water walker gets them pretty fit and he will probably just need a couple of sharp hitouts on the track.

"The jury is still out whether he can stay but he will be entered for everything in the spring."

Harvey said Whobegotyou's backmarker racing style also made it hard for him to show his best.

"With his style of racing it is always going to be hard because he has got to make his own luck," Harvey said.

* Further north, Sydney trainer Bart Cummings said his Flemington base is small on numbers but big on group one winners as he begins another assault on the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

Cummings spoke to The Age from his Sydney office, where doctors have allowed him to return after three weeks in hospital with pneumonia.

"We're building our numbers in Melbourne but the numbers we've got there are pretty well distinguished group one horses so it's all looking pretty good."

One of his most interesting additions to the stable is last year's Cox Plate winner So You Think, who missed the autumn after injury.

"He's in Melbourne and doing everything right," Cummings said. "He's put a bit of weight on, he's working well. You just have to ask a couple of my experienced track riders and they'll tell you he's going beautifully."

Cummings is likely to start So You Think's spring late next month but is keen to see the horse's condition before naming a starting event.

Another addition is Queensland Derby winner Dariana, who has started work for the spring in the past few weeks.

"She's another who has done well. I'm more than happy to have her going along at this stage and she's sure to be a player in the big races this year."

Cummings said his Melbourne base would build slowly over the next month but is confident he has the firepower to get similar results to last year's spring carnival.

* Meanwhile from Queensland, Stathi Katsidis believes AJC Australian Derby winner Shoot Out is on target to emulate the legendary Phar Lap during the Melbourne spring.

Shoot Out kicked off his ambitious spring campaign aimed at the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup with an impressive hitout in a 900m barrier trial at Doomben on Tuesday.

The rising 4-year-old, ridden by Katsidis, was beaten less than two lengths when second to tearaway leader The Chanster who led by six lengths in the middle stages.

Katsidis was impressed with Shoot Out's trial and continues to be amazed by the gelding's ability.

"He's come back better than ever and I was rapt with his trial," he said.

"He's an amazing horse and he's probably the best horse I've ridden.

"Until now, the best two I've ridden were Show A Heart and Gold Edition. He's a lot better than Show A Heart and it's probably a little early to compare him with Gold Edition who was purely a sprinter, but potentially he's better."

Trainer John Wallace was delighted with Shoot Out's work and has booked him on a flight on Wednesday week to Melbourne, where he'll resume in the Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on July 31.

It will be his final race as a 3-year-old before running every two weeks into the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in October and Melbourne Cup at Flemington in November.

Wallace and Katsidis aren't concerned with history which shows Phar Lap was the last horse to win the AJC Australian Derby then the Melbourne Cup as a 4-year-old, in 1929 and 1930.

The Gold Coast trainer also holds no fears about Shoot Out handling the left-handed Melbourne direction.

"He's a very good horse and good horses can do anything," Wallace said.

"I'm not saying he's as good as Phar Lap or anything like that but there hasn't been many attempts at the double Phar Lap won and hopefully my bloke is good enough to do it."

Wallace conceded Shoot Out still had to prove himself over 3200m but rated him a better stayer than Oompala who finished third to Jeune in the 1994 Melbourne Cup.

"I suppose the jury is still out with him running two miles but I think he can do it and I think he's better than Oompala," he said.

"I'm not worried about him running the Melbourne way. We've been working him twice a week that way at the Gold Coast and he seems to handle it fine."

Katsidis is on the same page as Wallace despite admitting Shoot Out pulled hard in his Australian Derby triumph.

"My instinct and gut feeling says he'll handle 3200m," Katsidis said.

"He pulled his brains out when he won the Derby but he's older now and has got the breeding and stamina to run it."

- AAP

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