The Spain’s Mission, the second Melbourne Cup favorite, is on track to embark on the second spring cargo, having fully recovered from a bout of muscle spasms.
The Spanish mission, international star, will board the flight to Melbourne for good on Friday, barring an unusual second setback.
Spanish Mission, put to the test in Newmarket, England, this weekend, recovered from muscle spasms that forced the second-seeded Melbourne Cup to miss a flight nine days ago.
Britain’s trainer Andrew Balding is said to be “relieved and happy” with the “healthy and tough” horse, which was withdrawn from the Caulfield Cup after failing to board the September 25th expedition.
Spanish Mission was the second Caulfield Cup favorite behind Queensland sensation Incentivise.
But US owner-manager Barry Irwin, speaking to News Corp before Incentivize added the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes to an imposing racing CV, said the Spanish mission could benefit from the setback.
“I’m okay with that (missing the Caulfield Cup) because I didn’t like the idea of dropping it down to 2400m and having to run it twice in a few weeks,” said Irwin, general manager by Team Valor International.
“It’s something he wouldn’t have been used to.”
Spanish Mission rose to the top of the Cup betting tables after being beaten by longtime best player in the world Stradivarius in the Lonsdale Cup Group 2 (3,270m) on August 20.
Six of the five-year-old’s last seven races have been at 3,200m or beyond.
A clash with Incentivize at Caulfield Racecourse was on the cards before the muscle spasms.
“A shudder on the side of his body, behind the saddle near the rib cage… maybe missed a couple of days of training (but) luckily he’s back on the beam,” Irwin said.
“This is the first time the horse has had a problem since we bought it (at the age of two)… it is a remarkably healthy and resilient horse.”
Spanish Mission will be joined on the second shipment by reigning Melbourne Cup winner Twilight Payment, Away He Goes and Sir Lucan.
The quartet will have three weeks to prepare for the Cup, including around fifteen in Werribee.
Florida-based Irwin, who unfortunately cannot make it to Melbourne due to travel restrictions, expects the Spanish mission to handle the long trip and the extended quarantine.
The Spanish mission will end up serving a total of six weeks of quarantine – including the additional fifteen days in Newmarket – after missing the first spring flight.
Irwin is just as confident that Spanish Mission and champion jockey Craig Williams will get along.
“He did well with a variety of jockeys on his back,” Irwin said.
“I’m not too concerned that he has a new rider.”
Irwin is familiar with races in Melbourne and Australia in general, having tried unsuccessfully in 2012 to qualify Brigantine for the Cup.
The local breeding galloped by finishing third in the Geelong Cup and failed to recover in time.
“I was very impressed with Flemington and the general racing atmosphere on Derby day,” said Irwin.
“Having raced all over the world, I have been favorably impressed that the Australian thoroughbred racing brand is the most passionate in the world.”
Spanish Mission costs $ 8 for the Cup in TAB’s all-inclusive marketplace, behind only $ 5, the favorite Incentivise.
Originally published as Spain’s second favorite Melbourne Cup mission on track to join second spring expedition