He was the Melbourne Cup horse who wasn’t a Melbourne Cup horse – not this year at least.
But co-trainer Trent Busuttin feels there could be some redemption at the end of Melbourne Cup week for his import Skyward.
Skyward was one of the most promising horses in France when John Messara purchased him as a Melbourne Cup prospect.
In his final European run, he finished less than three lengths from Anthony Van Dyck and the mighty Stradivarius in the Group 2 Prix Foy at Longchamp on September 13.
However Skyward needed a win in the 2400m Geelong Cup and a penalty to make the Melbourne Cup field.
He was disappointing on his Australian debut, looking a million dollars in the run but failing to find anything and finishing a lacklustre fifth behind Steel Prince.
If you take his European form on trust, the $31 being offered by TAB for the son of Camelot to win Saturday’s Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington may be overs.
But then there is the question mark of the Geelong Cup flop, something Busuttin and co-trainer Natalie Young admit they can’t wrap their heads around.
But if punters want a pointer, it is the fact that Skyward is aiming up for a Group 1 assignment on Saturday rather than tackling the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes on the same card.
“We are certainly disappointed he didn’t get in the Melbourne Cup, it’s easy to say afterwards but I think the race would have suited him,” Busuttin said, as Skyward, with Glen Boss to ride, drops back to the 2000m of the Mackinnon.
“He would have sat up on that good genuine Melbourne Cup tempo and given a good kick over two miles but what do you do, you can’t say he was unlucky not to be there because he just didn’t perform well enough in the Geelong Cup.
“Honestly we don’t know what happened there, we went there very confident.
“Willie Pike said that on the home turn his only problem was going to be getting to the front too soon as the horse was travelling so well.
“But then for some reason he just didn’t pick up.
“He wasn’t terrible but he wasn’t what we expected or needed him to be.
“He could have gone to Queen Elizabeth but we thought that wouldn’t tell us anything going to the autumn.
“His best form was in that race behind Anthony Van Dyck and Stradivarius, so he should be competitive in the better races here.
“We thought we will run him in the Mackinnon and it will give us some answers.”
Glen Boss, who will ride Skyward in the Mackinnon, parades the legendary Makybe Diva before the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday. Pic: Racing Photos via Getty Images.Source:Getty Images
Busuttin said Skyward is going onto the Mackinnon with a clean slate, with the training partnership prepared to forgive and forget his Geelong Cup effort.
They insist he is a far better horse than what Australian racing audiences saw at Geelong.
Busuttin and Young will also deploy Group 1 Metropolitan winner Mirage Dancer in the Mackinnon.
He is unfancied in betting, a $34 chance, but, just like Skyward, Busuttin says punters should forget Mirage Dancer’s last start performance when beaten a long way in the Caulfield Cup.
He points out Mirage Dancer beat Mugatoo in the Metropolitan, yet Mugatoo is a $5 chance in the Mackinnon after his brave fourth behind Sir Dragonet in the Cox Plate.
“Mirage Dancer got flattened in the Caulfield Cup, it was a total non-event for him,” Busuttin said.
“We are going on the guideline that we beat Mugatoo and then that horse came out and ran so well in the Cox Plate.”
Originally published asFrom Melbourne Cup miss to Mackinnon magic?
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