Nakeeta (Image: Racing Photos)
Scottish stayer Nakeeta will embark on a campaign aimed at a second Lexus Melbourne Cup tilt when he lines up in Friday's Chester Cup (2700m) for new part-owners Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock.
ATB's Darren Dance confirmed the recent purchase of the seven-year-old and said his summer program in Europe would be aimed at preparing him for the $6.2 million staying contest on the first Tuesday in November.
Nakeeta won the lucrative Ebor Handicap (2800m) last season before defying his 40-1 starting price to run fifth behind Rekindling in the Melbourne Cup and Dance - who sourced the likes of Heartbreak City (second in 2016 Melbourne Cup), Dandino (fifth in 2013) and Jakkalberry (third in 2012) - is confident both the horse and trainer Iain Jardine will be improved for the experience.
"We bought half of him," Dance said.
"Outside of the first couple, I thought he was one of the runs of the race in last year's Cup.
"Iain Jardine is a great trainer and the trip to Melbourne last year was a real eye-opener for him, I think it will definitely help with his preparation of Nakeeta this year.
"He'll go into Friday's Chester Cup a little underdone so we're not expecting too much but then he could have another crack at the Ebor before, all things being well, come back here for the Melbourne Cup.
"At this stage we're not going out looking for another international horse to buy for the Cup but if one came across my desk, I'd certainly be having a look."
Dance indicated that it was unlikely that Tiberian, the Alain Couetil-trained stayer that ran seventh for ATB in last year's Cup, would travel to Melbourne in 2018.
The son of Tiberius Caesar resumed with a creditable fourth in last week's Group 3 Prix d'Hedouville (2400m) and Dance said his program would be engineered towards 2400-metre features in Europe, potentially culminating with a start in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (2400m) in October.
Recruiters for the Spring Racing Carnival will be keeping a close eye on Chester's three-day May Meeting where, as well as the Chester Cup, the G3 Ormonde Stakes (2700m), G2 Huxley Stakes (2100m) will attract quality fields.