Racing: Corstens has top Melbourne Cup backup for import

One of last season's leading 3-year-olds, Zabeelionaire could give his sire Zabeel another Melbourne Cup win this season. Photo / Getty Images
One of last season's leading 3-year-olds, Zabeelionaire could give his sire Zabeel another Melbourne Cup win this season. Photo / Getty Images

Victorian horseman Leon Corstens has joined the ranks of trainers with imported horses heading to the Melbourne Cup but is also cheering for the local product to shine this spring.

Rosello, a listed winner in Germany, is a new addition to the team and will join South Australian Derby winner Zabeelionaire and emerging stayer Waterford Hill on the Cups' trail for Corstens.

Corstens has earmarked the group two Memsie Stakes (1400m) on September 1 at Caulfield for Zabeelionaire's return.

"Everything depends on the weather," Corstens said.

"He's only had a few weeks off and he was out in the paddock and brought in at night.

"He looks good and he will head to the Memsie.

"Rosello has been here for a couple of months and is a lovely type of horse.

"He was bought by Brad Spicer as a Cups' horse.

"I still think we breed good stayers here and Zabeel has been a champion sire for a lot of years."

The sire of Zabeelionaire, Zabeel, is about to begin his 22nd year at stud, continuing a legacy which has already produced Melbourne Cup winners in Might And Power (1997), Jezabeel (1998) and Efficient (2007).

Waterford Hill, by Encosta De Lago out of Danehill mare Crystal Hill, is raced by Gerry Harvey and has won the past four of his six starts.

American St Leger winner Jakkalberry has been stamped a major contender for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups with his Australian owner predicting a top-five finish in both races.

"We know he's a serious horse, we know he's a serious staying horse," Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock's Darren Dance told Melbourne radio station RSN.

"We know that he's going to be a genuine two-mile type horse - everything he's done has indicated that.

"He won and he won well ... we were pretty pleased with the way he hit the line.

"I will tell you today that that horse will finish top five in both those races if we get firm conditions."

Dance said Jakkalberry was sent to Chicago where the stayer's preferred dry track conditions prevailed. "Basically the horse performs better on firm surfaces," he said.

"We raced him in Ascot [in England] over the carnival and it was a very wet track.

"He ran a nice fifth but he really didn't attack the line like we know he can.

"Obviously, they've had the wettest summer there in about 40 years and as luck would have it I've got a firm track horse."

After that experience, Dance said Jakkalberry's plans were immediately changed. "We hatched a plan only in the last couple of weeks to bypass Newbury and, when they put the St Leger on at Arlington Park, we said 'yep, that's the race we need to go to'.

"It's 2700m, a firm surface, a similar track to what he'd be racing on in Australia."

Jakkalberry was bought in February, the result of a search by the stable for a European horse to campaign at the spring carnival.

He was bought in Italy and brought to England to be trained by Newmarket-based Italian trainer Marco Botti.


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