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International Melbourne Cup contender in doubt to head to Australia

Thomas Hobson has run second to three-year-old Desert Skyline in the Doncaster Cup but that may not be enough to convince owner Rich Ricci and trainer Willie Mullins to commit to a trip to Australia for the Melbourne Cup.

“He ran very well. It was always going to be tough giving Desert Skyline 12lb (5.5kg), but it was a good run,” Ricci said.

“I don’t know about Melbourne. I’ll talk to Ryan (Moore) and Willie. He qualifies now. He’s in the ballot proper.

“We’d have to see. We’ll have Max Dynamite (2015 Melbourne Cup runner-up) come out in a Listed race at Naas on Sunday week.

“It’s a big punt, Melbourne, because, rightly so, there’s no help with the Melbourne Cup. It’s all self-funded and it’s expensive, so you want to make sure you go there with a fighting chance.

“There’s plenty of stuff for him at home as well but we’ll have to see. He’s in the mix for Melbourne anyway.”

Winning trainer David Elsworth, who won the Doncaster Cup with dual Melbourne Cup placegetter Persian Punch in 2003, said Desert Skyline wasn’t ready for this year’s Melbourne Cup.

“I didn’t enter him for Melbourne this year but one day maybe,” he said.

“There has been interest from the southern hemisphere.

“I was pleased with him, of course, as he’s only a three-year-old. He had a weight-for-age concession, but it’s tough out there.

“He’s run consistently well at a high level and you’ll hear more of him next year.”

Elsworth’s only regret is that as a gelding, Desert Skyline is barred from Classic races in Europe.

“I don’t know why geldings can’t run in the Derby,” he said.

“Basically we want to know what the best three-year-old is and if he happens to be a gelding, then he’s the best.

“As a two-year-old he was naughty so he needed cutting (gelding), I’m sure he wouldn’t be as good if we hadn’t.”

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