Grand Marshal, ridden by Joao Moreira, wins the Moonee Valley Cup ahead of Who Shot The Barman and Pentathlon last Saturday.
Grand Marshal, ridden by Joao Moreira, wins the Moonee Valley Cup ahead of Who Shot The Barman and Pentathlon last Saturday. JULIAN SMITH

Pentathlon will be 'peaking on Cup Day'

RACING: New Zealand trainer John Wheeler expects Pentathlon to be at his peak for the Melbourne Cup after running in tomorrow's Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington.

This year's Wellington Cup runner-up has moved to 24th in the order of entry for Tuesday's 24-horse Cup field, following the withdrawal of Caulfield Cup runner-up Scottish and Bendigo Cup flop Howard Be Thy Name, but is still not assured of a start.

The Lexus winner is exempt from the Melbourne Cup ballot and there are five horses in the field with the chance to leapfrog Pentathlon into the Cup.

Pentathlon, who finished third in last Saturday's Moonee Valley Cup, can of course cement his place in the Cup field by winning the Lexus.

"I was hoping he'd be in the (Cup) field by now, but that's made it an easy decision to start him in the Lexus. I was tossing up whether to run him or not,” Wheeler said.

"I haven't done much with him since Moonee Valley (last Saturday), just kept him ticking over, but he's been licking the bowl since he got here and I'm really happy with him.

"He's been backed up quickly before in NZ and the run on Saturday should have him peaking on Cup Day.

"He's here for the Melbourne Cup.”

With dry conditions expected for tomorrow and probably Tuesday too, the weather forecast has further fuelled Wheeler's confidence.

"The firmer the better with him - he really needs a good track to produce his very best,” the trainer said.

Form would suggest Pentathlon will get better the further he goes.

He won over the 3200m trip at Trentham in December last year, was beaten a nose in January's Wellington Cup and finished a close-up fourth in the Auckland Cup in his last run before a spell.

New Zealand-based jockey Mark Du Plessis will ride him on Saturday and in the Melbourne Cup if the Kiwi galloper gets in.



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