Sparkling workout by Oscar Schindler


OSCAR SCHINDLER produced a sparkling track gallop yesterday morning in preparation for tomorrow's Melbourne Cup but that, and his relatively good draw, failed to impress local bookmaker Michael Eskander who lengthened his price half a point to 7 to 2.

The colt's trainer, Kevin Prendergast, is philosophical about the probability of the turf being firm. "He's handled fast ground before but hopefully God will send some rain," he said.

The trainer said yesterday morning's gallop rounded off beautifully the four-year-old's preparation for the £1.2 million race, which is due to start at

4.20am tomorrow morning. The race will be shown live on Sky Sports and BBC Radio 5 will also carry a race commentary.

"It was so perfect, it's frightening," he added. Prendergast reckons last week's Cox Plate winner Saintly is the biggest danger to his charge.

A maximum field of 24 is likely to go to post for the off at Flemington tomorrow morning. There were no surprises at the final declaration stage yesterday with all the leading fancies standing their ground.

The three European challengers all received middle to high berths in the draw, with Oscar Schindler stationed in stall 12, Grey Shot, trained by Ian Balding next door in 13 and Court Of Honour, trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam, in stall 1".

Last year's winner Doriemus is drawn outside Court of Honour in 18, with his main Australian-trained rivals in the betting, Saintly and Nothin' Leica Dane, coming from stalls three and nine respectively.

The weather in Victoria continues hot, with the mercury hitting the 30C mark yesterday and after four years of soft ground for the Cup, the underfoot conditions at Flemington are likely to favour the fast-ground specialists.

The local view is firm going would not suit Oscar Schindler but this view is undermined by his victory in Royal Ascot's Hardwicke Stakes which was gained on good to firm ground.

Yesterday did not go well for last year's winner Doriemus. His track rider Scott Magee reported the gelding had been uncomfortable and failed to stretch out.

The disappointing gallop and a hard Flemington track were compounded by a poor draw in stall 18, although he ran out of 24 in 1995.