Big Duke (Image: Racing Photos)
Big Duke, the first Australian-trained horse home in last year's Melbourne Cup, is back working towards going a few spots better this year.
The gelding, who finished fourth - beaten just over five-and-a-half lengths - behind Rekindling in last year's Cup, has been back in work at Darren Weir's Warrnambool stable for a few weeks.
The Australian Bloodstock-raced gelding missed the autumn to recover from a knee issue, which was discovered after his third placing in the G2 Zipping Classic, but is responding well to early work and is likely to return to the races in mid-August.
"He'll be up and racing nice and early," Australian Bloodstock's Jamie Lovett said.
"He had a little knee issue after the spring, but he's been given plenty of time.
"We're keen to get plenty of miles into his legs and plenty of work into him."
Big Duke launched last year's spring campaign in the 1600-metre handicap at Caulfield on August 19, in which he finished fifth, and had an additional five starts before the Melbourne Cup.
The Raven's Pass six-year-old has had 21 starts, seven of which are wins, and another eight minor placings for a touch under $1.5 million in stakes.