Agents believe Southern France is the forgotten Melbourne Cup chance McKeever and Blomeley quietly confident about Irish St Leger Trial winner
Victorian bloodstock agent Chris Blomeley and his UK counterpart
Johnny McKeever believe European import Southern France (Galileo)
has the quality and the imposing formlines to deliver syndicator Darren Dance
his Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) dream.
The duo were instrumental in purchasing 2016 Melbourne Cup runner-up
Heartbreak City (Lando) for Dance’s Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock
syndicate and they combined again this year to land the former Coolmore-owned
Southern France. Now trained by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, the five-year-old
came on the agents’ radar in April after running third in the Vintage
Crop Stakes (Gr 3, 1m 6f) at Navan but another almost six months elapsed before
a deal was finalised.
The Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock syndicate took ownership of Southern
France after his Irish StLeger Trial (Gr 3, 1m 6f) victory at The Curragh on August 16.
He defeated Melbourne Cup rivals Downdraft (Camelot) and Master
Of Reality (Frankel) that day before finishing third in the Irish St Leger
(Gr 1, 1m 6f) on September 15, with Cross Counter (Teofilo), Master Of
Reality, Latrobe (Camelot) and Twilight Payment (Teofilo) all finishing
Maher and Eustace have overseen his campaign since the St Leger,
but they have also taken on board advice from Aidan O’Brien, Southern
France’s previous trainer.
He is considered a $26 chance after drawing barrier 14 on Saturday,
with Mark Zahra booked to take the ride.
“We honestly think he is the forgotten horse. We are going in pretty
confident. David is confident, Ciaron is confident. We have got a good rider
and we couldn’t be happier really,” Blomeley told ANZ Bloodstock News.
“He beat Cross Counter at even weights last start and now we meet
him two kilos better here.
“He is versatile and I think Ciaron would agree with this. We are happy
for him to land eighth, one off the rail, and barrier 14 should allow that.”
McKeever is also confident about Southern France’s hopes in the Cup.
“It was a very good run in the Irish St Leger. He was also extremely
impressive in the St Leger Trial, obviously a lesser race,” McKeever said.