Haggas keeping Melbourne option open for now with Desert Hero

King and Queen’s Leger third starting requisite veterinary tests.

Desert Hero will start the vetting procedure for the Lexus Melbourne Cup, with trainer William Haggas eager to keep all avenues open for his St Leger third.

The Sea The Stars colt, who is owned by the King and Queen, was beaten just over three lengths by Continuous at Doncaster on Saturday and is a general 12-1 shot for the Flemington feature on November 7.

International runners in the two-mile contest are subject to a series of veterinary checks before being permitted to run by Racing Victoria, a process which Haggas will begin with Desert Hero, although he underlined undertaking those checks does not necessarily mean the horse will make the trip.

The King and Queen watch on with excitement at Doncaster
The King and Queen watch on with excitement at Doncaster (Danny Lawson/PA)

He told the Nick Luck Daily Podcast: “We want to leave all options open, so the horse will go through his veterinary tests.

“I think we start tonight and then we’ve a couple of days (of) MRIs, tomorrow and Wednesday, so we will get those completed. That doesn’t mean he’s going, but the weights come out tomorrow and then we can collate all the information. Who knows, the veterinary protocols might rule him out anyway, so we will see what happens.”

The King and Queen were at the Town Moor track to see Desert Hero post a gallant effort in defeat, with the crowd providing a warm reception.

Haggas added: “It was a fabulous day – there was a huge crowd, very enthusiastic. I don’t think anyone really believed the King and the Queen would come, so the fact that they did was terrific.

“They weren’t there for very long, but it was great that they came.”

William Haggas explains to the King and Queen where the race was won and lost
William Haggas explains to the King and Queen where the race was won and lost (Nick Robson/PA)

The King and Queen assumed the late Queen’s racing interests following her death, with Desert Hero giving them a first Royal Ascot success when winning the King George V Stakes in June.

Asked if he thought the King was enjoying his racing experience so far, Haggas said: “It appears that way and that’s fantastic because he’s very keen, but obviously it’s been his mother’s baby for as long as we’ve been alive and he didn’t get involved until sadly she left us.

“He’s been full on since and I think he’s enjoying it – I hope he is anyway.

“There was a bit of nervous tension on Saturday, as you can imagine – excitement, but there was a little bit of nerves. We’d spoken about the horse and everyone knew the situation, we were just all hoping for the best.”

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