Melbourne target for scratched Metropolitan hope

Classy import Lord Belvedere will chase a Melbourne Cup berth through Saturday’s The Bart Cummings after the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained galloper was officially scratched from a Group 1 tilt in Sydney.

Lord Belvedere was one of three acceptors for the Maher-Eustace team for the $750,000 Heineken The Metropolitan alongside stablemates Etah James and Azuro.

But the multi-state stable have chosen to keep Lord Belvedere in Victoria to chase Melbourne Cup exemption in the Group 3 The Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington.

Lord Belvedere was rated the stable’s best chance of winning The Metropolitan and was $11 with TAB.com.au following Tuesday’s barrier draw for the race.

His scratching will ensure Chris Waller saddles up five runners in the race with Norway coming into the field as the first emergency.

Meanwhile, Maher and Eustace’s other runners in the feature are both considered outsiders in the Group 1 field with Etah James ($61) and Azuro ($201) huge prices.

Etah James won the Sydney Cup last start. Picture: AAP Image/Dan HimbrechtsSource:AAP

Etah James is having her first start since winning the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) in April while Azuro heads to the race third-up after last featuring in the Group 3 Newcastle Cup, finishing 10th.

“Etah James it is probably her last throw at the stumps to get into the Cups being an older mare but in saying that she is going really well,” Maher and Eustace’s Sydney foreman Jack Bruce said.

“She is on a Cups path and is probably more suited to the two mile than a Metropolitan trip but she has had plenty of work and has been in work a long time.

“She has had three good trials under her belt and should be fit enough to run a strong 2400m.

“Azuro has got great 3200m form and although he always takes a couple of weeks to get going, his first-up run was very good.

“Second-up he was a bit plain but he gets up to a suitable trip here and is going really well.”

Regan Bayliss is aboard Etah James while apprentice Louise Day is on Azuro and carries 51.5kg.

Originally published asMaher-Eustace top seed scratched from Metropolitan

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