Simenon runs a blinder to finish fourth to Fiorente in Melbourne Cup

Trainer Willie Mullins may now take his star to Tokyo for the €4.1 million Japan Cup

Simenon secured over €176,000 for finishing fourth in yesterday morning's Melbourne Cup and Willie Mullins is now pondering the possibility of taking his star flat-performer to Tokyo for the €4.1 million Japan Cup in just 18 days time.

Japan may not be the extent of Simenon’s Far Eastern travels either as the Hong Kong Vase in early December is another option for the Irish horse who ran an honourable race at Flemington yesterday as the European challenge came up short against the home-favourite Fiorente.

The Irish-bred, and ex-Michael Stoute-trained, star provided the top Australian trainer Gai Waterhouse with a first Melbourne Cup success and Fiorente was chased home by the British pair Red Cadeaux and Mount Athos, with Simenon fourth, and Dandino fifth.

There appeared to be no excuses for Simenon who looked a possible winner at the top of the straight but after initially getting the jump on Fiorente, Richard Hughes's mount had no answer as the winner swept past to provide jockey Damien Oliver with his third win in the race. "It looked turning for home we had a real chance and we played all our cards but better horses beat us on the day. Everything went right the whole way," said Mullins.


'Ran a blinder'
Ireland's champion National Hunt trainer added: "We'd have no problem coming back and we'll hopefully have another to come back with him. We'll see how he comes out of this race but we're looking at the Japan Cup and Hong Kong Vase."

Hughes reported of Simenon: “He ran a blinder. They kind of quickened a length on me but if I’d gone then it would have been a long way home. I’m very pleased with him.”

Japan proved a happy hunting ground for Mullins in April when Blackstairmountain scooped a €550,000 first prize for landing the world’s most valuable jumps race, the Nakayama Grand Jump, under Ruby Walsh. But Hong Kong on December 8th would see the Irishman break new ground in his overseas raids.

Mullins's more short-term focus will be on more familiar targets closer to home as he has both Arvika Ligeonniere and a new addition to his powerful squad, Sanctuaire, among the ten entries left in Sunday's Boylesports Fortria Chase at Navan.

Last year's winner Flemenstar heads the entry but the triple-Grade One-winning novice Arvika Ligeonniere will be a potent challenger to the horse having his first start for new trainer Tony Martin. The ex-Paul Nicholls-trained Sanctuaire was purchased by owner Rich Ricci for just over €200,000 in August and is in line to make his first start for Mullins.

Sunday’s other Grade Two race is the Lismullen Hurdle for which Mullins has left in four, including the star trio of Mikael D’Haguenet, Zaidpour and Mourad. Mouse Morris has kept open the option of running Rule The World in the two and a half mile contest.

Today's action at Fairyhouse opens with a four-runner novice hurdle that looks very trappy but Somethingwonderful could edge it now that he is upped to two and a half miles. Dessie Hughes's horse broke his maiden at Punchestown over two but he looks a stayer in the making.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column