Keiai Nautique could head to Rosehill Gold Cup

Cox Plate reject Keiai Nautique could be a surprise nomination for the Rosehill Gold Cup as trainer Matthew Smith considers the best target for the Japanese-bred galloper.

A full brother to Smith’s former Group 1 winner Fierce Impact, Keiai Nautique was paid up for the Cox Plate but was excluded from the final field by the Moonee Valley Racing Club committee, who felt his recent form didn’t justify him a spot in the elite field.

While disappointed, Smith is moving forward and considering whether to bring the horse back to Sydney for the $750,000 Rosehill Gold Cup (2000m) next Saturday, or stay in Melbourne for the Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington a week later.

“He’ll either run in the Mackinnon, or next Saturday in the Gold Cup. One or the other,” Smith said.

“The fact the other one is a Group One will probably sway the owner because he is a stallion and it would be nice to win another Group One with him.”

A winner at the elite level in Japan, Keiai Nautique has started just three times in Australia and finished a close-up fourth to Mo’Unga in the Winx Stakes and filled the same placing behind Think It Over at his most recent appearance in the Hill Stakes when he made ground in a slowly-run race.

Smith has no doubt the horse would have held his own if given a Cox Plate berth and says he is still on an upward spiral.

“I think he would have run very well. He’s still acclimatising here in Australia and he’s improving all the time,” Smith said.

“His work is getting better and better so hopefully he will run a peak performance next start.”

Despite being a full relation to Fierce Impact, Keiai Nautique is a different style of horse, according to the trainer.

“They’re a bit different. Fierce Impact had plenty of speed and was a good miler, this horse is going to better at 2000 metres, maybe even a bit further,” Smith said.

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