Trainer hoping for Flemington start for Melbourne Cup hope Settler's Stone

Longford trainer Troy Blacker is hoping Settler’s Stone gets a run at Flemington on Saturday so the horse can continue his push for a start in the Melbourne Cup.

Settler’s Stone is only 32nd in order of entry for a 1700-metre race but Blacker is optimistic the gelding can squeeze into the 16-horse final field.

“There are quite a few horses entered for the race that are double nominated so we’re hoping for the best,” the trainer said.

Settler’s Stone was having his second run after a spell when 10th to Stampede at Moonee Valley last Saturday.

He was to have raced a week earlier but was balloted out.

“He was three weeks between runs going into Saturday’s race which wasn’t in the plan but he wasn’t beaten that far,” Blacker said.

“His sectional times were good and he pulled up well.”

After this week’s race, Blacker hopes to run Settler’s Stone in the JRA Cup at Moonee Valley on September 29. He won the same race in 2011 with Dream Pedlar.

“His main aim is the Bart Cummings at Flemington which carries automatic entry to the Melbourne Cup  but that’s still a couple of runs away,” Blacker said.

Settler’s Stone earned a spring campaign with three top runs at the end of his last preparation – a fourth in the Launceston Cup, third in the Roy Higgins Quality at Flemington and third in the Mornington Cup.

SEVEN-YEAR BAN FOR TROT TRAINER

Carrick harness trainer Keith Toulmin has been disqualified for seven years as a result of his criminal convictions for animal cruelty.

MAKING PROGRESS: Tasmanian stayer Settler's Stone, pictured winning at Mowbray in February, will continue his spring campaign at Flemington on Saturday if he gets a start. Picture: Greg Mansfield

MAKING PROGRESS: Tasmanian stayer Settler's Stone, pictured winning at Mowbray in February, will continue his spring campaign at Flemington on Saturday if he gets a start. Picture: Greg Mansfield

Toulmin, 68, pleaded guilty to charges of animal cruelty and aggravated cruelty when he appeared in the Launceston Magistrates Court last month.

The court heard that the RSPCA had found 15 horses and a pony “starving” on a Birralee property in 2016.

Four of the horses had to be destroyed.

Toulmin was sentenced to two months in prison wholly suspended for 12 months, fined $5000 and ordered to pay $5900 compensation to the RSPCA.

As a result of the convictions, harness stewards opened their own inquiry which heard submissions from Toulmin before handing down three separate disqualifications totaling seven years.

Stewards said that when determining penalty they were “mindful of the seriousness of the charges which had a significant adverse impact upon the reputation of harness racing.”

They were also mindful that any penalty “act as a significant deterrent for breaches of animal welfare standards.”

Orders were also made to Toulmin and the registered owners of horses still in his care that those horses must be removed within seven days.