Bart Cummings kept his hopes of alive of starting his 88th runner in the Melbourne Cup when veteran galloper Precedence won his second Moonee Valley Cup on Saturday.
Cummings, who has won an incredible 12 Melbourne Cups, now trains in partnership with his grandson James and the pair turned eight-year-old Precedence out in great order for the Group Two Moonee Valley Cup over 2500m.
Precedence, who won the Moonee Valley Cup in 2010, was given a great ride by Craig Williams and picked up his rivals comfortably at the top of the straight to win by one and a half lengths from Shoreham with Gotta Take Care finishing third.
But Precedence, who has ran in the past three Melbourne Cups, is expected to need at least a 1.5kg penalty from handicapper Greg Carpenter to make the field for the Flemington feature on the first Tuesday in November.
The gelding was only 44th in the order of Melbourne Cup entry before the Moonee Valley Cup and Carpenter will decide on a penalty for the horse on Monday.
If he is to make the field James Cummings thinks Precedence can improve on the 9th, 11th and 10th placings he has finished in the past three years.
“He’s fit and fresh on the scene and feeling good,” James Cummings said.
“There’s nothing to say he can’t run better than he did in the last three years.”
A 1.5kg penalty would give Precedence a Cup weight of 54kg and place it 32nd in the order of entry, still needing several contenders above him to withdraw their entries.
Meanwhile Sydney colt Savvy Nature has firmed in the betting for the Victoria Derby next Saturday following an impressive win in the Moonee Valley Vase (2040m).
Ridden by James McDonald, Savvy Nature came from last to circle the field around the home turn before going on to win by two and a half lengths from All Rigged Up and Pinstripe Lane.
Savvy Nature is now a $4.50 equal favourite for the Derby with the Peter Snowden-trained Complacent who was an impressive winner of the Spring Champion Stakes earlier in the month.