Supernova is out of the Metropolitan Handicap with co-trainer Michael Hawkes confirming the horse will instead chase a Melbourne Cup berth via the Bart Cummings at Flemington.
The winner of Saturday’s Bart Cummings (2520m) is exempt from a Melbourne Cup ballot and Hawkes says the Flemington race has always been the preferred option.
With acceptances for the Metropolitan taken on Tuesday and the final field for the Bart Cummings not released until a day later, the stable was forced to pay up for both races to ensure Supernova a run this weekend.
“We had to accept in the Metrop because if he didn’t gain a start in the Bart Cummings and didn’t accept in the Metrop then he wouldn’t have gained a start anywhere,” Hawkes said.
“If he wins this race Saturday he’s in the Melbourne Cup so that’s what it’s all about.”
Hawkes has no doubt the lightly raced stayer will relish the open expanses of Flemington and feels the horse has done enough at his two return runs to indicate he is on target.
Supernova powered home from last to run second in the Rowley Mile at Hawkesbury before finishing midfield in a Kingston Town Stakes dominated by the on-speed runners.
“First-up was good and second-up, I think you just have to put a line through it,” Hawkes said.
“They just walked and he was no hope from where he was but he got home OK and he’s going to appreciate Flemington.
“It’s a big track, 2500, no weight, he’s drawn well and he should be knocking on the till.”
Dwayne Dunn will ride Supernova who has drawn barrier four in the field of 14.
He was a $14 chance on Thursday with Surprise Baby heading betting at $2.40 and looking to make amends after narrowly missing out in another Melbourne Cup qualifier, the Andrew Ramsden Stakes, won by Steel Prince in a head-bobbing finish.