Racing: Fiorente lifts Gai's spirits

It has been a quiet carnival for leading trainer which may change in the Cup.

Gai Waterhouse admits it was a case of "love at first sight" when she was introduced a few months ago to her newest Melbourne Cup prospect, Fiorente.

When she saw the horse for the second time at the Werribee quarantine centre, her fondness was undiminished.

"He's something else this horse, just look at him?" Waterhouse said, "and he can gallop as well."

Having put the foibles and idiosyncrasies of the Cox Plate barrier draw behind her, Waterhouse turned her attention to Tuesday and a race that she may well be looking to for redemption.

Waterhouse is planning to have two runners in the Melbourne Cup: Caulfield Cup failure Glencadam Gold and the newly-arrived Fiorente.

Both horses came to the stable from champion English trainer Sir Michael Stoute.

Even before Glencadam Gold's Caulfield disaster, Fiorente shaped as the horse on the up and Waterhouse confirmed that view. "He's such a promising horse and he's going in the right direction.

"His form in England is outstanding and you only have to take one look at him and you know he's a good type.

"It was love at first sight when I saw him. I looked at about 20 horses in France and England and he was the only one I wanted to buy."

Waterhouse didn't disclose what the owners had paid for Fiorente, except to say the "bidding war" started at A$700,000, which might seem extravagant for a horse who has won only two races and less than A$200,000.

But Fiorente fits perfectly into the "progressive" profile so sought by international buyers.

After winning a Newbury maiden at the second of his nine starts, Fiorente graduated to stakes class finishing second in a group two race at Royal Ascot in June last year.

That race was won by Nathaniel who this season has won the group one Eclipse Stakes and finished third to the wonder horse Frankel at Ascot last weekend.

Fiorente's only other win came in a group two race over 2400m at Newmarket in July, in which he beat Joshua Tree and Red Cadeaux, runnerup in last years's Melbourne Cup.

Joshua Tree has since won the Canadian International and the proven Cup guide, the Prix Kergorlay.

And with the Waterhouse polish now being applied he is bound to arrive at Flemington ready to run.

Ready to get on his back is New Zealand's James McDonald.

"He sounds a really exciting type of horse," said McDonald yesterday.

"His form is at the improving stage and he should be a good prospect. I'm excited to be on him in the Melbourne Cup."

Doubtless McDonald will have his first Melbourne Cup mount on his mind but of far more immediate concern is his ride aboard Victoria Derby favourite It's A Dundeel this Saturday.

Bookies are taking no chances keeping the son of High Chaparral rock solid at $2.60 after the barrier draw yesterday.

It's A Dundeel drew barrier 10 of 16 for the group one at Flemington, but that won't be a hindrance, according to bagmen.

"He gets back in the run, so the wide barrier won't be a problem and we expect him to be the second New Zealand galloper to win a big race in the space of a week," TAB's Adam Hamilton said.

The New Zealander has drawn directly inside Super Cool, who beat him in the Mitchelton Wines Vase last weekend.

Norman Robinson Stakes winner Hvasstan, has drawn alongside It's A Dundeel in barrier nine, while Sydney colt Honorius has gate two.


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