2011 Melbourne Cup Return Not On For Littorio

Littorio will be back in action this spring but the gelding has been all but ruled out of a Caulfield Cup / Melbourne Cup campaign.

His first scheduled task has been cautiously pencilled in as the Group 2 Makybe Diva Stakes however connections aren’t getting too excited too early.

The horse hasn’t raced since the Sydney Cup of 2010 where he came home third last over the 3200m.

Since then he’s been hampered with injury and they’ve come at critical times.

For the last month he’s been back in light work for Nigel Blackiston at Flemington and reports are that things are so far so good.

The lengthy spell was forced by a torn ligament however Blackiston says it’s now healed back to almost 100 percent.
“He is in my stables and has been here about one month,” he said.

“At this stage it is progressing in the right direction but until we pressure on him, trial him or race him we will now then if it holds up but at the moment all is good.”

Littorio was being readied for a tilt at the Group 2 Memsie Stakes last spring when the injury struck during track work just a day before the race.

“He started off a spring campaign last year and he went amiss when he was nearly at the races,” Blackiston said.

“We are hoping to kick him off in the first week of September possibly in the Makybe Diva Stakes over 1600m at Flemington.”

He hasn’t run during the spring carnival since back in 2008 so there’s no telling how far he may progress in 2011.

In that year he also began in the Makybe Diva Stakes and ran third behind Weekend Hussler.

After that he rose to Group 1 prominence with a win in the Turnbull Stakes which set him up as a big player for a Cup campaign.

He was valiant in the 2008 Caulfield Cup where he ran home fifth but the two miles of the Melbourne Cup proved a little too much.

He did make up some ground from deep in the field down the straight but he could only manage a modest 13th.

For that reason Blackiston says he’s going to keep the journey a little bit shorter this year.

“I would say we probably won’t go beyond 2000m with him at this stage,” he said.

“The Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) is the biggest possibility for a main goal but that is a long way away. With the sort of injury he’s had it will just be a case of taking it one race at a time.”

“He is a lovely horse to have around in the stables and if he stays sound he will be more than competitive.”
Although a rising seven year old the long break means he’s still quite lightly raced.

In fact he’s had only 24 starts so far in his career.

From that tally he’s banked just three wins and seven minors but he’s made them count with prize money of over $2.3 million.

In addition to the big Turnbull Stakes pay day Littorio became a dual Group 1 winner when he won The BMW at Rosehill Gardens in the autumn of 2010.

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