Nickajack Cave (grey) winning the Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown (Image: @IREThoroughbred Twitter)
Peter Moody will have his best chance of winning the Lexus Melbourne Cup within months of returning to training after being entrusted improving Irish stayer Nickajack Cave.
A consortium of Australians that includes owners that raced Moody's fabled unbeaten mare Black Caviar, his three-time Group 1 winner Manighar and 2010 Cup champion Americain have acquired the Northern Hemisphere four-year-old grey gelding.
Former Racing Victoria chairman Robert Roulston brokered the deal which was inked prior to Nickajack Cave's victory in last Thursday's G3 Bahrain International Ballyroan Stakes (2414m) at Leopardstown.
Moody told Racing.com that Nickajack Cave will not race again in Europe ahead of this year's Lexus Melbourne Cup, meaning he won't contest the G1 Irish St Leger (2816m) at the Curragh on September 13.
Instead, Nickajack Cave will enter quarantine in Newmarket in late September without another run and then exit Spendthrift Australia Park Werribee's International Horse Centre on Caulfield Cup Day (October 17), when he will be clear to compete.
"The Melbourne Cup is our sole target," Moody said. "There was a suggestion that he would run in the Irish St Leger but we were worried that if he won that it might have given him too much weight in the Melbourne Cup, so we've decided to bypass that race.
"It's more than likely that he'll go straight into the Melbourne Cup without another run. We've got staff that will take him into quarantine, he'll stay with Ger (Lyons) until mid-September and then the staff will take him into quarantine in Newmarket afterwards until he travels to Melbourne where my staff will take over at Werribee.
"Robert Roulston selected the horse and does a wonderful job in identifying these suitable horses for connections."
Moody, who returned to training in May, conceded he didn't know a great deal about Nickajack Cave but would contact Lyons to educate himself about the son of Kendargent ahead of the Lexus Melbourne Cup.
Nickajack Cave is a $51 chance to win the $8 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 3 but that price is likely to shorten upon confirmation of his Australian future.
Moody's seven Melbourne Cup runners have started at $20 or greater, with Voila Ici his highest-placed finisher when 13th in 2012 as a $101 chance.
His other competitors were Schupeter (22nd in 2003 at $201), Vouvray (15th in 2005 at $101), Lights Of Heaven (16th in 2012 at $20), Ibicenco (16th in 2013 at $71), Lidari (19th in 2014 at $81) and Brambles (15th in 2014 at $81).
"I've probably only ever went into the Melbourne Cup twice thinking I was some sort of chance with Lights Of Heaven and Vouvray and both horses failed to run out the 3200 metres," Moody said.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity and fingers crossed we can have a faultless prep."
WHO IS NICKAJACK CAVE?
Nickajack Cave has raced 10 times for four wins and three placings, racing exclusively in Ireland for local trainer Lyons.
Lyons has always held Nickajack Cave in high regard and the trainer's excellent year, which saw him win his first Classic in June's Irish 2000 Guineas with Siskin, has coincided with Nickajack Cave winning both starts at Stakes level since racing resumed in Ireland following the COVID-19 outbreak.
Nickajack Cave won as a $13 outsider in the Listed Saval Beg Levmoss Stakes (2816m) at Leopardstown on June 14, defeating the Lloyd Williams-owned race favourite Twilight Payment.
Owner David Spratt then struck a deal with his new ownership group before Nickajack Cave won the Ballyroan Stakes, settling behind the leader and sprinting brilliantly to score ahead of another Williams-owned favourite, Pondus, who finished fourth after racing three wide throughout in the field of five.
Spratt also sold the Lyons-trained Mustajeer to Australian connections prior to last year's Caulfield and Lexus Melbourne Cup. He originally retained a part-share before deciding to dissolve all interest prior to the Caulfield Cup.
"The owners are dead-set keen on the Melbourne Cup but you always hope this sort of horse develops into a nice 2000 to 2400-metre weight-for-age horse post the (Melbourne) Cup and he appears to have the right profile," Moody said.