Yucatan jumps into contention for Melbourne Cup courtesy of penalty

Mon 15 Oct 2018

Impressive Herbert Power Stakes winner Yucatan has been handed a 2.5kg penalty for the Melbourne Cup.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained four-year-old turned what looked a competitive Group Two Handicap into a procession.

While a winner in Group Three company before leaving for Australia, he had finished last in the Coronation Cup and the Wolferton at Royal Ascot prior to that – but he looked a reformed character Down Under.

He is set to be out again quickly in this weekend’s Caulfield Cup.

“Yucatan’s win on Saturday was incredibly impressive, and a significant step up on his previous form in Europe this year,” said Racing Victoria’s Greg Carpenter.

“While the official winning margin on Saturday was 1.25 lengths, he was more than six lengths in front at the 100m mark before his jockey James McDonald eased him down.

“Yucatan will meet significantly stronger opposition in the Lexus Melbourne Cup, but the absolute dominance of his Herbert Power win demands a significant penalty – and as a consequence, he has been given 2.5kg and now has 54.5kg.”

Part-owner Nick Williams told www.racing.com: “Aidan and TJ (Comerford, travelling head lad) can’t fault the horse and are keen to press on to Caulfield.

“We thought he’d run well, but you couldn’t ever think that he’d run away with it like that.”

The penalty moves Yucatan from 55th on the original order of entry for the Melbourne Cup to 24th – making him almost certain to get a run in the 24-runner field, with only the possibility of the Lexus Stakes winner displacing him.

There was less good news for Charlie Appleby, however, who had to rule the injured Emotionless out of the Spring Carnival and revealed that Melbourne Cup favourite Cross Counter had met with a setback.

“It is annoying, but the Cup is over three weeks away and there is time for (Cross Counter) to be ready, provided his recovery is as we expect,” Appleby told www.godolphin.com.

“He will be box-rested for two days. The vets will have another look, and then we will assess everything after that.”

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