An expected small field for Wednesday's A$300,000 Geelong Cup has resulted in a change of plans for Melbourne Cup hopeful Exceptionally.
Co-trainer Terry O'Sullivan said it was likely the mare would now run in the Geelong Cup - a race which has grown as a Melbourne Cup pointer - instead of waiting for Saturday's Moonee Valley Cup.
"It wasn't really where we were going to run, but if they are only going to get seven or eight runners then we probably will," O'Sullivan said yesterday. "We were going to go to the Moonee Valley Cup but I think we'll change tack. We're definitely going to accept for the Geelong Cup."
O'Sullivan says Exceptionally, who was 40th in last week's Melbourne Cup order of entry, will need to win to earn a Cup berth. Her opposition at Geelong is set to include internationals Brigantin and Gatewood as well as Tac De Boistron who is now in the care of Mick Kent.
The 2010 Melbourne Cup runner-up Maluckyday is also likely to be in the field for the 2400m race after missing a berth in Saturday's Caulfield Cup won by Dunaden.
"I think she would have to win the Geelong Cup or the Bendigo Cup next week, she'll have to win a race," O'Sullivan said of the mare's chances of making it to the Melbourne Cup.
"She would need to get a penalty, that's what I'd be hoping for."
O'Sullivan scratched Exceptionally from the Bart Cummings Stakes (2500m) during the Flemington race meeting on October 6 as he believed the track was too firm for the mare.
Exceptionally had her most recent start a week after her Flemington scratching and finished third in the Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield behind Shahwardi.
"The mare couldn't be doing better," O'Sullivan said.
Having been beaten by Shahwardi and having watched the Caulfield Cup performance of Dunaden, O'Sullivan knows the international horses will be a force to be reckoned with in the Geelong Cup.
Americain and Dunaden have won the Geelong Cup on their way to Melbourne Cup success in the past two years. "They are very good horses, there's no doubt about that," he said of the internationals.
"I'm not in any way saying she's better than them but with luck I think she can be pretty competitive."