Matt Cumani could hardly be happier with imported stayer Grey Lion going into Wednesday’s group 3 $300,000 Geelong Cup, 2400m.
The Ballarat trainer has had Grey Lion in his care less than two weeks, but Cumani has been impressed by everything about the five-year-old entire.
He said while it was difficult to fully assess him after such a short time, but “he’s well and great shape”.
Grey Lion has been installed as favourite for what will be his only start ahead of a planned Melbourne Cup run.
Cumani is sticking firm with his plan to have just the one outing before the 3200m assignment at Flemington on November 1. Grey Lion is also nominated for the Moonee Valley Gold Cup on October 22, but Cumani said that was only as security in case for some unforeseen circumstance his did not get to the barrier at Geelong.
Grey Lion has not raced since finishing last of eight over 3000m at Deauville in France on August 21 and has been based at the Werribee International Horse Centre since arriving in Australia.
Grey Lion will jump from the outside barrier, with the field reduced to nine on Tuesday after two early scratchings.
Cumani rates another Irish-bred import Kinema, which will be having his first Australian start for Chris Waller, as the main danger.
Weir also looks to have a big hand, with the ultra-consistent Black Tomahawk – with four seconds and two thirds in is latest six starts – one of the best backed in the race.
Grey Lion officially remains 30 in the Melbourne Cup ballot order in the battle to make the cut-off of 24.
Darren Weir has two runners inside the field limit, with Real Love 19 and Howard Be Thy Name 22.
However, Zanteca's Melbourne Cup campaign and possibly racing career is over after she injured a tendon.
Zanteca had been 26. Manndawi is next in order for Weir at 37, while Tosen Stardom and Master Zephyr are yet to pass the first ballot clause.
Another Ballarat trainer John Thom has last-start Moe winner White Dollar Sign in the same category.
Visiting import Heartbreak City, which is party-owned by Ballan district-based Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock, is at 21.
Meanwhile, the Weir-trained Black Heart Bart has drawn barrier six for the $3m WS Cox Plate, 2040m, at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Black Heart Bart is again facing the huge task of taking on champion mare Winx, which he ran second to in the Caulfield Stakes, 2000m, at Caulfield on October 8.