Melbourne hopes arrive Down Under

Geordieland, Land ‘N Stars and Wunderwood have arrived fit and well in Australia and are currently settling into their temporary surroundings ahead of next month’s Melbourne Cup.

Geordieland, Land ‘N Stars and Wunderwood have arrived fit and well in Australia and are currently settling into their temporary surroundings ahead of next month’s Melbourne Cup.

Geordieland has not been seen since finishing an honourable fourth under a big weight in the Ebor, but handler Jamie Osborne has been thrilled with his progress.

Osborne’s charge must stable in quarantine for a fortnight at Sandown and will remain there after that period as connections put the finishing touches to his build-up programme.

“He’s landed and he’s there at Sandown,” Osborne confirmed.

“He stays there in quarantine for two weeks and basically that’s going to be his new home.

“He won’t move from there until he runs now. There is a training track and a racecourse there so that’s where he stays.

“He had a good trip and Jimmy Duggan, who is a very experienced flying groom, travelled over with him for me.

“He’s only lost six kilos which is fantastic. It’s a lot less than we’d dared hope for and he’s taken the trip well, so it’s so far so good.”

While the Caulfield Cup, run over 12 furlongs on October 21, had been mooted as a potential stepping-stone to ‘the race that stops a nation’, Osborne opted to keep his entire fresh for the Melbourne Cup.

“We’re heading straight for the Melbourne Cup, we’re not going to do the Caulfield,” he added.

“I’m sure he’d run well in the Caulfield Cup but I just didn’t want to run the risk of leaving the Melbourne Cup at the Caulfield.

“I couldn’t be happier with the horse as I’ve had a great clear run with him since York and I’d say he’s improved since.

“We were really just learning about this horse, I’d only had him since June, so I have every reason to believe he’ll be even better come November 7 than he was on Ebor day.

“He’s got a great cruising speed and a bit of class, which is all you need.”

Jamie Poulton is also looking forward to embarking on an antipodean adventure and reports his six-year-old Land ‘N Stars to have taken the long-haul flight in his stride.

“He’s arrived safe and sound,” he said. “He drank really well and he’s eaten well on the aeroplane too and he’s arrived in fantastic nick.

“He’s also lodging at Sandown and I’m looking forward to joining him soon, I fly out about this time next week.

“Everything has gone fantastic with him and everything seems to be falling into place so well I’m just keeping my fingers crossed now.

“The horse has quarantined with David Elsworth’s horse Wunderwood and he’s really come to himself well, he’s enjoyed it.”

Although Land ‘N Stars must bounce back from a disappointing effort in the Goodwood Cup, in which he finished just over five lengths behind Geordieland, Poulton feels his defeat of Sergeant Cecil back in July underlines his credentials as a Melbourne Cup contender.

He also confirmed the Mtoto gelding will be prepared for a crack at the Caulfield Cup en-route to Flemington.

“Sergeant Cecil keeps franking his form over and over again and I couldn’t be more delighted for Sergeant Cecil, for Rod Millman and for myself as well,” he laughed.

“We’re going to go for the Caulfield Cup as well as the Melbourne and I’m hoping John Egan will be able to ride in both races.”

Wunderwood, partnered by Egan in his last two races, ran out a game winner of a Salisbury conditions event at the end of August on his most recent outing.

“He’s fine and they got there early this morning our time. I think everything is fine and he is now in the quarantine stables,” confirmed a spokesperson for the stable.

Other horses likely to fly the flag for Britain include Godolphin’s Imperial Stride and the Luca Cumani-trained pair Glistening and Soulacroix – both owned by Australian Paul Makin.

Bookmakers have seen considerable support for Aidan O’Brien’s Yeats in recent weeks although definitive travelling plans have yet to be outlined for the Ascot Gold Cup winner.

“It’s all starting to come together as far as the internationals are concerned although we still have no confirmation on plans for Yeats,” Leigh Jordon, racing director of Racing Victoria Limited told www.theage.com.au.

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