Skyward (Image:

Messara makes Melbourne Cup decision

Improving French stayer Skyward will continue his career in Australia after majority owner John Messara decided to campaign the Northern Hemisphere four-year-old towards this year's Lexus Melbourne Cup.

Messara confirmed he had bought a 'one-way ticket' for Skyward, which required a non-refundable pre-commitment to horse transport company IRT ahead of an August 31 deadline.

Skyward will have his final start for French trainer Fabrice Chappet in the Group 2 Prix Foy (2400m) at Longchamp on September 13 before entering quarantine at Newmarket on September 16.

The Camelot entire will arrive in Melbourne on October 2 and has been entrusted to Cranbourne-based training partners Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young.

"We have booked him on the plane to Australia," Messara said. "Trent has been training one or two for us at the moment and he approached us early in the piece about training him.

"He's trained an Auckland Cup winner, he's had Derby winners and I think he's one of the up-and-coming trainers emerging and working alongside his partner Natalie (Young), I think they do a pretty good job."

Skyward won his first Group race in the G3 Prix de Reux (2500m) at Deauville on August 9 and Chappet originally intended to run him over the same track and distance in the G2 Grand Prix de Deauville (2500m) last Sunday.  

However, after Cups-bound stablemate San Huberto failed to handle the track conditions in the G2 Prix Kergorlay (3000m) on August 23, Chappet advised Messara against running Skyward in the Grand Prix de Deauville seven days later.

"They've had a lot of rain and a lot of racing on the Deauville track being the end of their August season and the trainer (Chappet) said 'I just wouldn't put a good horse over it'," Messara said.

After deciding against the option of a second Deauville run during August, Skyward will instead contest the Prix Foy, the race recognised as the main domestic lead-up race for the 5m (A$8m) Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (2400m) on October 4.

Waldgeist won last year's Prix Foy for the second-consecutive season before causing an upset in denying Enable three-successive Arcs.

This year's Prix Foy will be headlined by the appearance of John Gosden's champion stayer Stradivarius, who is preparing for his first Arc tilt against dual Arc winner Enable and Aidan O'Brien's nine-length English Oaks winner Love.

The weights for the Caulfield and Lexus Melbourne Cups will be released five days before the Prix Foy, meaning only victories can earn Skyward crucial weight penalties or ballot-free exemptions ahead of the Cups.

Prior to Racing Victoria issuing the weights which determine the elimination order for the Caulfield and Lexus Melbourne Cups on September 8, it's anticipated Skyward may require victory in the Prix Foy to gain entry into the $5m Stella Artois Caulfield Cup (2400m) at what would be just his eighth start.

Therefore Skyward's Australian debut may occur in a Lexus Melbourne Cup qualifier such as the G3 Geelong Cup (2400m) on October 21 or G2 Moonee Valley Cup (2500m) on October 24.

Messara, who owns 75 per cent of the horse, with the other quarter share retained by original owner Arno Curty, considers Skyward 'borderline' of getting into this year's Lexus Melbourne Cup field, which is his priority.

"If he runs well in the Prix Foy and arrives in good shape it will be for this year's Lexus Melbourne Cup, and maybe the Caulfield Cup as well. But if he doesn't travel well then there's alternatively the Lexus Melbourne Cup next year," Messara added.