Spanish Mission (Image: @GBRacing Twitter)

Spanish Mission (Image: @GBRacing Twitter)

Key moment in Lexus Melbourne Cup Mission

Possible Lexus Melbourne Cup competitor Spanish Mission faces another stern test of his staying credentials in the £500,000 (A$930,000) Group 1 Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup (3219m) on Tuesday, the opening day of 'Glorious Goodwood'.

Spanish Mission at this early stage appears the most likely, and highest-profile internationally trained horse not owned by any Australian interests who could make the trip for the Melbourne Spring Carnival.

Should Spanish Mission win Tuesday's Goodwood Cup, a week before entries close for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, those Australian plans may be scrapped as he would almost certainly be promoted close to topweight.

But those wishing to see Spanish Mission in Melbourne will be hopeful of witnessing an encouraging performance in defeat, consistent with his last-start third in the G1 Ascot Gold Cup (4014m) when beaten 5.5 lengths by Subjectivist, who has since suffered a season-ending injury.

Spanish Mission finished sixth of seven starters in last year's Goodwood Cup and transferred stables from David Simcock to Andrew Balding, with whom he has won three of seven starts, including last September's Doncaster Cup (3600m) and May's Yorkshire Cup (2787m) at G2 level. 

Goodwood's festival in late July is usually held on dry, quick ground but 30mm of rain from torrential downpours on Sunday has ensured the track is likely to race in the soft range on Tuesday.

"This has been the plan for a long time and we are really pleased with him (Spanish Mission) - we just wouldn't want too much rain," Balding told Racing Post.

"Stradivarius is a fairly awesome opponent, and if he's anywhere near his best he's going to be very tough to beat, but on his Yorkshire Cup win and his Gold Cup third, Spanish Mission ought to be very competitive."

Stradivarius, a seven-year-old entire by Sea The Stars, is striving to win the Goodwood Cup for the fifth-consecutive year.

He overcame plenty of traffic issues to win last year's Goodwood Cup but wasn't as fortunate in gaining clear running when fourth in attempting a record-equalling fourth-successive win in the Ascot Gold Cup last month.

Trueshan is yet to win at the elite level and has been beaten twice at both starts this campaign, finishing runner-up to Japan in the G3 Ormonde Stakes (2692m) on May 6 and having every hope under a big weight when sixth in the Northumberland Plate (3270m) at Newcastle on June 26.

The prospect of a rain-affected, albeit improving, turf surface at Goodwood has been the stimulus for Trueshan's market support, as he appreciates a forgiving surface, as evidenced by last October's win in the G2 Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup (3209m).

In contrast, connections of Stradivarius are hopeful no more rain arrives, with his odds drifting from an opening quote as short as $1.60.