Darren Weir looks ready to Signoff with a Melbourne Cup win
AS Cups King Bart Cummings knows better than anyone on the planet, getting a horse to peak on the first Tuesday in November is the secret to winning Australia's world-renowned staying race at Flemington.
Cummings will chase his 13th victory in the Melbourne Cup tomorrow with old-stager Precedence, rated an $80 shot at his fourth attempt to win the race that stops a nation.
And highly-regarded Victorian country trainer Darren Weir appears to have adopted a Cummings-like preparation with his lightweight hope Signoff.
The five-year-old Irish-bred stayer zoomed into Cup calculations at the weekend, winning the Lexus Handicap at Flemington with super jockey Joao Moreira on board.
The Hong Kong-based hoop was booked to ride Au Revoir in the Cup, but switched to Signoff after winning the Lexus and will ride him 0.5kg over his re-handicapped weight of 51kg.
Signoff will attempt to emulate the effort of Shocking who won the Lexus in 2009 and then triumphed in the Melbourne Cup three days later.
Prior to the Lexus, Weir had never met Moreira.
Tomorrow afternoon the pair could well be the toast of the thoroughbred racing world if 'Magic-Man' Moreira can again produce a special ride on Signoff, who is drawn awkwardly in barrier 16.
"He (Signoff) just ran away from them (Lexus rivals) because he was so good," said the Brazilian hoop, quickly adding: "I think he will be pretty good for that race (Melbourne Cup) too."
Signoff will be Weir's fourth Melbourne Cup starter, and he'll be hoping he can go one better than his 2003 runner, She's Archie, beaten into second place by mighty mare Makybe Diva who went on two win three successive Cups.
"He (Moreira) will probably ride forward, try to be in the first half dozen (runners)," Weir said after the barrier draw.
Half the Cup field, including Japanese raider and Caulfield Cup winner, Admire Ratki, the $4.60 favourite, are from Asia, Europe and America, making the form even trickier to assess.
Veteran European stayer Red Cadeux returns for his fourth tilt at the Cup.
English hoop Ryan Moore, who won the Cox Plate on Adelaide, is chasing the feature double on German stayer Protectionist, who won a lot of admirers with a first-up fourth to Big Memory in the Herbert Power at his only Australian start.
Don't miss your Melbourne Cup guide in today's local APN paper