CHANGE OF PLAN: Connections hope new riding tactics will help Pentathlon (No.9) in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup.
CHANGE OF PLAN: Connections hope new riding tactics will help Pentathlon (No.9) in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup. Martin Hunter

Kiwis plan easy run for Pentathlon in Gold Cup

RACING: New Zealand trainer John Wheeler and Aussie jockey Luke Nolen are hoping a change in riding tactics will put long-shot Pentathlon right in the mix in today's Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m).

In his Australian debut in the Group 3 Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington on October 2, Pentathlon led or was on the pace for much of the race before weakening in the straight to finish seventh, beaten five lengths.

That won't be happening tomorrow to the 26-1 shot.

"I gave that performance (in the Bart Cummings) a pass mark,” Wheeler said yesterday.

"It was a pretty average ride by James (McDonald). He rang me up and apologised the next day.

"I said to him before the race, 'Don't be too aggressive', but in his defence the horse jumped well and then the one that went around outside him went mad in front and we ended up going too hard.

"I certainly do give him a chance (at the Valley) and I'll be very disappointed if we don't run in the first four or five.”

Nolen rode Pentathlon in a 1550m trial at Cranbourne on Monday, picking up that ride on the spot and subsequently being offered the Moonee Valley Cup ride by Wheeler.

"He felt nice and travelled to the line really well - a good preparation for tomorrow,” the jockey said yesterday.

"John said he was ridden too close to the pace in the Bart Cummings and from an awkward draw tomorrow (barrier 10) we'll ride him in the opposite fashion, try to get some cover and come home.”

Wheeler said he was pleased with Pentathlon's close-up second in Monday's trial on an unsuitably heavy track at Cranbourne, pointing out that the Wellington Cup (3200m) runner-up beat home Group 3 1600m winner Coronation Shallan.

"That's a pretty handy miler (Coronation Shallan) and my horse likes it firm - rock hard if he can get it,” Wheeler said.

"The trial was only a mile and that's a mile (1600m) short of Pentathlon's best distance. He's really here for the Melbourne Cup and I'm happy with the way things are going.

"We're flying under the radar a bit, but that's fine.”

Unfortunately for Nolen, win or lose today he will be unable to make the weight to ride Pentathlon in the Melbourne Cup (3200m).

Pentathlon has been allotted 50.5kg in the race that stops on nation, while Nolen, who reached the heights as Black Caviar's jockey, has been riding at a minimum of 55kg, although he hopes to lighten off during Melbourne Cup week.

In today's much- anticipated Cox Plate, Victorian jockey Mark Zahra has picked up the ride on French raider Vadamos at the expense of Hong Kong's premier jockey, Joao Moreira.

He and fellow jockey Sam Clipperton were forbidden to travel to Melbourne due to a typhoon, with Hong Kong stewards concerned the pair might not get back in time for tomorrow's Sha Tin meeting.