Melbourne debut for Leger runner-up Ventura Storm
St Leger runner-up Ventura Storm is set to make his Australian debut on Saturday in a 2,000-metre (1m2f) handicap at Flemington, where connections are targeting the Melbourne Cup in November for the former Richard Hannon-trained four-year-old.
Ventura Storm, whose final start for Hannon was a Group 1 victory in the Premio Jockey Club at San Siro in October, has joined the training partnership headed by David Hayes, who trained former Geoff Wragg-trained Jeune to win the Cup in 1994.
"He's a really well-credentialed Melbourne Cup horse," said Hayes, speaking to AAP Racing. "We decided to buy him and put a syndicate together."
Ventura Storm, who arrived in Australia in February, will shoulder top-weight of 62kg (9st9lb) under apprentice Mitch Aitken against 14 rivals at Flemington on Saturday.
"I want to give him a Jeune-type preparation where he has a race in May," said Hayes, who now trains in partnership with his son Ben and nephew Tom Dabernig. "We'll claim [on Saturday] because he's got a huge weight. That will be his only run and then he'll be put aside and trained for the spring.
"I'm looking forward to it but I'm not expecting too much because of the weight and being first-up at 2000 metres."
>>New South Wales trainer Daniel Want has been disqualified for 15 months after being found guilty of a cobalt offence. A post-race sample taken from the Want-trained I Too Can Dance after he won a maiden at Grafton in February was found to contain a higher than allowable concentration of cobalt.
Two Victorian trainers, Len Xuereb and Stefan Jokic have been charged with cobalt offences dating from samples taken in 2015. (AAP)