Melbourne Cup dream a step closer for Charlton and Bloom after Withhold romp
Trainer Roger Charlton and owner Tony Bloom have long had a Melbourne Cup dream – and that dream came a step closer to reality with Withhold's Northumberland Plate victory on Saturday.
After last year's Cesarewitch winner comfortably landed a gamble in the Stobart-backed Newcastle feature a trip to Australia in November quickly emerged as the ambition and Charlton, speaking on Sunday, is full of enthusiasm for the project.
He said: “The plan has been Melbourne for quite a long time, as Mr Bloom longs to win the Melbourne Cup and so do I. It’s a huge prize compared to the Cup races here and I hope he’s going to improve. It's most people's dream to win the race."
The trainer added: “He’s now qualified to go to Melbourne, having won two heritage handicaps, so it’s just a question of getting him there on the right weight – he’d probably need to be rated 110, 111 or maybe even 112.
“Normally the handicapper whacks you up and we all complain, but in this case we’ll probably need to run again to get him up.
"I don’t think it’ll be Goodwood. I think York would make sense, but he might only run once more in Britain and have one race in Australia.”
Watch Withhold's Northumberland Plate victory here
Withhold, who has won has four times in 11 career starts, moved to Beckhampton from Charlie Hills in May 2017 when acquired by Brighton & Hove Albion chairman Bloom from Khalid Abdullah at Tattersalls Autumn Sale for 170,000gns.
Charlton, also interviewed by Racing UK, added: “I was probably lucky to get him when he was about to start his upward curve. He’s a very big horse at nearly 17hh and is by Champs Elysees. I think it’s recognised now his sire's progeny improve with age and stay very well."
Charlton last contested the Melbourne Cup with Quest For More in 2015, who finished four lengths behind winner Prince Of Penzance, and he believes Withhold could be better suited to the challenge.
"Withhold's a more suitable horse, even though Quest For More was only beaten by a few lengths. He’s younger and, at the moment, sounder.
"I think he goes on any ground and has a good cruising speed, which you need – and more – to win the Melbourne Cup."
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