Cup aspirant Allen rides his luck with late switch to Serpentine

The Melbourne Cup fortunes of Johnny Allen changed dramatically in less than three minutes when his mount Alegron finished a disappointing sixth in the Lexus Archer Stakes.

James Cummings had already told Allen that his ride was dependent on the horse performing well over 2500 metres, so he wasn’t surprised when the decision was made soon after that Alegron would not be a final acceptor for the race.

But good fortune was on Allen’s side when that decision saw him able to switch to the Lloyd Williams-trained Serpentine, who had shot up to 16th in the order of entry for the race after he rode him into a brave second in the Stakes.

Surefire ridden by James McDonald wins ahead of Serpentine ridden by Johnny Allen. Credit:Getty Images

He was one of several recipients of late luck to have a runner, with Interpretation earning a spot when Chris Waller decided not to back up Crystal Pegasus while High Emocean’s connections were able to breathe a little easier.

The ride on Serpentine was a nice reward for Allen, and he did not take it for granted, particularly after star jockeys Damien Oliver and James McDonald – who, like Allen, rode winners on Derby Day – were left without rides when their mounts Durston and Loft were scratched during the week due to injury.

“It’s a good replacement and good to have a ride,” Allen said after winning the last race on Asfoora.

Serpentine’s return to form gave Allen confidence he has a good ride in the race.

“He’s a tough horse, he’s been around,” Allen said. “Lloyd trains them tough, so hopefully he can back up and run well Tuesday.”

He will jump from barrier 23 on Tuesday just outside another Irish-bred chance, Camorra, who will have his first run in Australia when he jumps from barrier 17 for the Hayes stable.

The horse was prepared for travel by JD (James) Hayes and Will Hayes, who headed to Ireland soon after being delisted by Carlton.

He arrived in good order and Ben Hayes said while the barrier was not ideal he was rapt with the horse’s fitness.

“You have got 1000 metres to the turn, so he will be able to jump, get into a bit of a rhythm and roll across,” Hayes said. “He has done everything right, he is sound and a happy horse and I think he will run well.”

Hayes said it was an outstanding experience for his brothers to ready the horse for travel from famous Irish trainer Ger Lyons’ stables in County Meath. 

“We have had a lot of experience with horses coming over and hopefully run well. It would be great to win a Melbourne Cup,” Hayes said.

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