Muollo upbeat ahead of Melbourne Cup

Explosive Jack
Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) contender Explosive Jack. Photo credit:

New Zealand breeder Luigi Muollo is quietly confident that triple Derby winner Explosive Jack can put his Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) run behind him with a strong showing in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday.

Explosive Jack had looked to be firmly on track for the Flemington feature when he ran a very nice fifth in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m), coming from last to finish less than four lengths behind Incentivise.

But he then put in a below-par effort in the Caulfield Cup, never getting going and finishing 17th of 18, more than 14 lengths behind Incentivise.

However, Muollo said the ace barrier draw he had in that race may not have been the benefit it is for many horses.

“I think maybe Caulfield didn’t suit him, so fingers crossed he can turn that around,” Muollo said.

“He’s a long-striding horse, and I think he prefers to race on the outside rather than the inside. He’s drawn barrier four, but hopefully he won’t be on the inside again.

“The 3200m will tell for a lot of horses but it should suit him, and I definitely think Flemington will be to his liking.”

Explosive Jack is a son of ill-fated stallion Jakkalberry, who stood at Muollo’s Novara Park before his passing in 2018. Jakkalberry’s efforts on the track included a third-place finish in the 2012 Melbourne Cup, so Explosive Jack should have no trouble staying 3200m.

Winner of the Australian, South Australian and Tasmanian Derbys last season, Explosive Jack is a son of Extra Explosive. Muollo has developed the family from Extra Explosive’s dam Explosive.

It’s been a good family for Muollo. In addition to Explosive Jack, Extra Explosive has produced Pick Number One, who was a champion griffin in Hong Kong after winning five of his first six races there, while another daughter of Explosive, Explosive Dancer, is the dam of 2018 Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) winner Vin de Dance.

“Eight years ago, when I was developing the family, Explosive had six fillies in a row and I was cursing, but now, five of these mares that have had progeny to race have produced a Group horse,” Muollo said.

Muollo said he also got great satisfaction watching Hitotsu, from the first crop of outstanding Japanese racehorse Maurice, win the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) on Saturday.

“It just made me feel more confident in the progeny of our sire Staphanos, who beat Maurice in Japan and also placed against him at Group One level multiple times,” he said.

Novara Park plans to sell a Staphanos half-sister to Explosive Jack at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale at Karaka next year.

Explosive Jack won’t be the only horse Muollo will take an interest in when the Melbourne Cup field jumps.

“I’ve also got a Staphanos half to Ocean Billy in my paddock as well because I’ve done a few foal shares with Bill Pomare,” he said.

“But let’s hope it’s a Kiwi-bred if it’s not one of my own. I am rapt for any New Zealand-bred horses that get results in Australia because that’s what we need to do. We do punch above our weight and I’m there to make sure we continue to do that moving forward.”

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