Daqiansweet Junior on 2023 Melbourne Cup trail

Phillip Stokes is using the Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield in a bid to gain a Melbourne Cup start for Daqiansweet Junior.

Trainer Phillip Stokes is taking a different approach 12 months on in his bid to have Daqiansweet Junior peaking for the Melbourne Cup.

Stokes elected to bypass The Bart Cummings (2520m) at Flemington last week in favour of the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield on Saturday.

Success in The Bart Cummings would have secured Daqiansweet Junior a ballot exemption into the Melbourne Cup, but Stokes is banking on attrition and the potential of a penalty, if successful on Saturday, in rising up the Melbourne Cup ballot order.

Daqiansweet Junior currently sits number 30 in the Melbourne Cup Order of Entry while he also remains in the Caulfield Cup, but at number 27 will need to win on Saturday to gain a ballot exemption if he is to take his place.

“He’s still got to earn his way to the Melbourne Cup,” Stokes said.

“So, we’re hoping for a bit of attrition, or if we can win on Saturday and get a bit of a penalty.”

Stokes said he doubts Daqiansweet Junior would back-up in the Caulfield Cup on Saturday week if successful on Saturday, but the option remains open.

Daqiansweet Junior ran sixth in last year’s Melbourne Cup carrying 53kg and drops to 51.5kg this year.

Stokes said in bypassing The Bart Cummings, he felt Saturday’s Herbert Power and the three-and-a-half weeks into the Melbourne will work better for the stayer.

“He had been off the scene for a while leading into this campaign,” Stokes said.

“Last time, he had a lot of residual fitness all the way through from the Adelaide Cup and Sydney Cup, so I just thought the three-and-a-bit weeks into the Melbourne Cup 2023 this year would be better.

“The horse is going great.

“He’s still got a nice turn of foot in him, but he just needs to get up to his right trip.”

With Daniel Stackhouse, who has ridden the stayer in his past two starts in the Heatherlie Stakes and Naturalism Stakes at Caulfield heading to Sydney to ride Benedetta in The Silver Eagle at Randwick, Blake Shinn takes the ride on Saturday

“We won’t lose anything there,” Stokes said.

Online betting companies in Australia have Daqiansweet Junior as a $101 chance in Melbourne Cup odds.

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