Prior to the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury on Saturday Luca Cumani made no secret of the fact that his progressive stayer Mount Athos needed to win in order to book his place on the flight to Australia for the Melbourne Cup at Flemington in November.
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networks sat up and took notice and backed the Dr Marwan Koukash-owned gelding from an opening morning price of 9/4 all the way down to 5/4 market leader, and the five-year-old certainly didn’t let supporters down as he landed the spoils in style, staying on far too well for last season’s St Leger runner-up Brown Panther who was anything but disgraced in second place.
Ridden with plenty of confidence by former champion jockey Ryan Moore, Mount Athos was patiently ridden through the first mile of the 13 furlong event as rank outsider Dartford set a cracking gallop for stable companion and 2011 St Leger winner Masked Marvel, but the tactic failed to bear fruit for the John Gosden team as Cumani’s rising star bounded through to take it up two furlongs from home before drawing way to beat Brown Panther by three and a quarter lengths, the runner-up sticking bravely to his task but never looking likely to bridge the gap.
Koukash was full of beans in the unsaddling enclosure declaring to all within shouting distance that his charge will head straight to quarantine before making the marathon journey Down Under, and bookmakers certainly sat up and took notice as they installed the Geoffrey Freer hero the new ante-post first choice for the ‘race that stops a nation’, making Cumani’s winner a top priced 14/1 shot with most horse racing odds
firms. Mount Athos now unbeaten this term in three outings having previously landed a listed contest at York to prove his wellbeing.
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