Amade (Image: Racing Photos)
The 2021 Lexus Melbourne Cup will get its first confirmed runner on Saturday afternoon at Flemington, but the locally based horse with possibly the best chance of challenging for the November race will instead be getting used to working from home.
The seven-year-old Amade will be restricted to some light work this week while the younger local stayers vie for a ballot-free Lexus Melbourne Cup spot in the $400,000 Andrew Ramsden Stakes (2800m) at Flemington.
Amade cannot run in the Ramsden as it is a race confined to three, four and five-year-olds, but Stokes said the horse won't be taken out of work entirely.
"He'll be kept in light work as he's in a good space and we've got a nice uphill training track at the farm and he can just enjoy life in a paddock, which he hasn't had for a long time," Stokes explained on Monday.
"He's an exciting horse who we'd love to get to a Lexus Melbourne Cup."
Amade is an import from Europe but, due to a series of injuries, had been restricted to just 15 career runs - the latest of those being at Flemington where, at just his second run in this country, he easily dealt with likes of highly rated locals Persan and Mohican Heights, who will both be Ramsden-bound on Saturday.
Stokes is in the middle of a real purple patch of form with 13 winners coming from his past 37 runners.
"The staff here and in Adelaide have done a great job getting these horses ready and we hope that (winning run) can continue on this weekend," he said.
Among Stokes' runners in Melbourne and Adelaide on Saturday is flying filly Instant Celebrity, who is aiming to make it back-to-back Group 1s in The Goodwood after dealing with fellow fillies and mares last start in the Sangster Stakes.
"We've got Jamie Kah to ride her on Saturday and we're really pleased with where she is," Stokes said. "She's going great and while this is going to be tougher, good fillies run well in this race and I think she will too."
Stokes confirmed that his highest-rated horse, Mr Quickie, will not run again before the $1.5 million Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm on June 12.