DAN O’Sullivan has confirmed Tuscan Fire as a Caulfield Cup starter.
O’Sullivan said yesterday connections had decided to make use of the ballot exemption earned in winning this year’s Mornington Cup and line up Tuscan Fire in the $2.5 million staying test on Saturday, October 19.
Tuscan Fire was yesterday among 41 third acceptors for the Caulfield Cup and 73 first acceptances for the Melbourne Cup. O’Sullivan is not fazed by the seven-year-old being 53 in ballot order for the $6 million Melbourne Cup to be run on Tuesday, November 5.
He said Tuscan Fire was fully qualified and if he managed to run in the top three in the Caulfield Cup would be justified running.
Tuscan Fire is one of two Ballarat-trained Melbourne Cup hopes, with the highly fancied Puissance de Lune from the Darren Weir stable on track to the give the event a major shake.
O’Sullivan said connections had taken 24 hours to consider whether to press on with a Caulfield Cup campaign after Tuscan Fire’s 13th in the group 1 $500,000 Turnbull Stakes, 2000m.
“Going into the race, if you’d asked what would be a pass mark, it would have been (within) five lengths (of the winner).”
While Tuscan Fire finished eight lengths back after being sixth 400m from home, O’Sullivan said there had been mitigating circumstances with him striking interference with about 200m to go.
He said jockey Luke Currie believed Tuscan Fire was a chance of getting into the placings until being bumped.
O’Sullivan said this had been Tuscan Fire’s only “bad” run of the preparation.
Tuscan Fire won first-up at Flemington and in his next three starts had finished within five lengths of the winner.
Puissance de Lune will have his next start in the $3 million WS Cox Plate, 2040m, at Moonee Valley on Saturday, October 26.
Puissance de Lune is on the fourth line of betting for the Cox Plate with TAB.com.au at $7 behind Atlantic Jewel ($2.80), It’s A Dundeel ($4.40) and Fiorente ($5.50).