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Second Melbourne Cup foray unlikely for Withhold

Mon 1st Apr 2019, 09:27

© Photo Healy Racing

Withhold appears set to stay closer to home in future after last year's Melbourne Cup hopes ended with a broken blood vessel in his prep run.

Roger Charlton's 2017 Ceswarewitch winner was well-touted for Flemington, on the back of his Northumberland Plate success last summer, until he could finish only eighth of 15 as favourite for the Geelong Cup.

That was a race Withhold needed to win to be sure of a place in the Melbourne Cup.

Instead, his Australian adventure ended there and then - and Charlton has voiced significant qualms about trying again with the six-year-old, who has returned to health and is back in training for the summer ahead.

"I don't know (about going for the Melbourne Cup)," said the Marlborough trainer.

"I wasn't impressed by the quarantine facilities, and I think the track is difficult to train on.

"There was a certain amount of criticism about the bedding and the forage."

That is enough to cool further ambition to take Withhold back to Australia.

"It’s a long way to go to break a blood vessel," added Charlton.

"He may well bleed - but it is better to bleed closer to home.

"You have to come through with a healthy horse after a long journey, and he didn’t make the cut.

"There are no complaints really. What happens in the future, we will see — but there are plenty of nice races here."

Charlton will give Withhold all the time he needs, but it is a case of all well so far to return this season.

"He came back into training on Friday," he said.

"There are no plans yet really. He has had a nice break out in the field.

"I think horses that bleed need as much rest as possible."