LE ROI has kept surprising trainer Tony McEvoy, he admitted after the former German stayer's easy Summer Cup win at Rosehill on Wednesday.
When McEvoy went hunting for staying types in France, Le Roi wasn't even on the list. However, he is quickly developing into a horse that can have McEvoy mentioning the Cup and Melbourne together.
''When he found him he were actually looking at the horse that ran third in the race [in France],'' McEvoy said. ''The bloke who was over there for me rang and said it [the third placegetter Autumn Leaves] went well but he really liked the winner. I said 'go and talk to them then' but they had already gone home to Dusseldorf, so then we had to go and find them. It was a bit of search but we got the horse.''
Since arriving in Australia, Le Roi has added another four wins to take his record to five wins from seven starts. The Summer Cup win gave Le Roi a pass for the balloting clauses of the Melbourne Cup.
''That is one of the reasons we came here,'' McEvoy said. ''It ticks a few boxes, this race. The Melbourne Cup is the race everyone has in mind for their stayers and he is still learning, so can improve.''
McEvoy said of the four horses he bought from Europe, which include Sysmo, Mouro and Saint Desir, Le Roi was at the bottom of the list.
''He was fourth of the group, he has come a long way and is now at the top of the list after that,'' he said.
Le Roi had collected a hat-trick of wins in Adelaide and Melbourne, which made jockey Glyn Schofield very confident heading to the races.
''When I watched his tapes on Monday, he had the ability to really sprint and I didn't think anything else in the field had that ability and that's what he did,'' Schofield said.
Le Roi took up the position on the back of leader Iggi Pop, loomed up on his outside turning for home and quickly got the better of him.
He was left in front a long way from the line and started to float, running out to join Brightest, which was challenging, in the closing stage.
Le Roi had three-quarters of a length to spare on the line with Praecido running his usual honest for third another 1½ lengths away.
''I had that much horse underneath me I probably could have gone back onto the sand and won,'' Schofield said. ''I let him roll out because he had blinkers on. I was clear and wanted him to see another horse coming at him.
''He's still quite new. I feel he probably would have won a bit easier if I was probably two or three lengths further back and I was running at horses rather than getting there soon and having a look around.
''He gave me the impression he's certainly got a bright future.''
McEvoy is looking to plot a course towards the spring but is unlikely to campaign Le Roi on firm tracks.
''He will have six weeks off and just swim at my Murray River property,'' McEvoy said. ''I'm not sure about the autumn because you can run into firm tracks.
''If he does, it would only be light but I think Brisbane is better for these sort of horses.
''I think he would be the right type of horse for Melbourne in spring because he is still on the way up.''
■ Long-serving AJC steward Jack Hickman died on Christmas Eve.