iskander

Noonan banks on omens for longhshot


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Buccellati might be the rank outsider at $401 but trainer Tony Noonan remains positive amid the omens surrounding him leading into the Melbourne Cup.

“We think this will be the basis of a terrific film,” Noonan said.

“It has been a fairytale to this point and tomorrow will be the happy ending.

“We have got plenty of omens but we just haven’t shared them with everyone.”

While no horse has ever won at longer odds than $101, Buccellati will start from the same gate as last year’s winner Shocking and will be ridden by 1991 Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Steven King.

Racing for a $150,000 gold cup, he is also named after world famous jeweller Mario Buccellati who was dubbed the “Prince of Goldsmiths” for his own crafted gold creations.

But it is the saddlecloth number that gives Noonan most reason for optimism.

“We were all keen when we got the number 10,” Noonan said.

“It’s the number we would have picked ourselves if we had been given the chance.

“Dad played footy and wore number 10 and we have just had a lot winners with that number.”

The Buccellati story started six years when Noonan decided the best and cheapest way to get a Melbourne Cup runner was to buy a yearling with stout bloodlines in Europe.

Costing 20,000 pounds, Buccellati, a son of Soviet Star, was his first in England and he has been bargain earning more than $900,000 in the care of English trainer Andrew Baulding.

Noonan said that having the horse trained in England gave owners, who include Racing Victoria director Peter McMahon and Geelong car dealer Rex Gorell, the option of bringing Buccellati out for the Melbourne Cup if had good enough form.

A winner of eight of his 30 starts, he has raced in Turkey, France, England, Canada and Hong Kong but a setback derailed plans to run him last year’s Melbourne Cup.

Instead he underlined his class and was third in Canada’s Group One Woodbine International (2400m) in Canada in October before arriving in Australia in April fully qualified for this year’s Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.

Noonan’s excitement about the remarkable journey is understandable.

“The whole thing has been a fairytale from buying him as a yearling and bringing him right across from the other end of the world,” Noonan said.

The only problem has been the wet spring and Buccellati’s inability to handle soft ground.

Three of his four Australian runs have been on rain-affected tracks with his best effort a seventh to Zipping in the Turnbull Stakes two starts ago.

However Noonan said every run had been beneficial to Buccellati and provided him with a good grounding for the Cup.

“He has come right on in his time in Australia,” Noonan said.

“It was important in those lead up races that he got a chance to adapt to the tempo of the races.”

Noonan said with the weather clearing, Buccellati’s chances were only getting better.

“This track will keep improving and it will be to his liking tomorrow,” he said.