Trainer John Moore is in a race against time to have Dan Excel ready for the A$3 million (HK$20.7 million) Cox Plate in Melbourne on October 25 after the gelding sprouted a temperature on Tuesday and will miss his scheduled first-up run in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield on Sunday, reports HK Racing Post.

After starting his preparation stabled with Moore's brother, Gary, at Rosehill in Sydney, Dan Excel arrived by road at his Melbourne stables on Monday and all was in order until his temperature spiked on Tuesday.

"We aren't sure of the cause just yet but Dan Excel had an elevated temperature. I told his owner, David Boehm, and we agreed that, in the best interests of the horse, he should be scratched from Sunday's run," Moore said.

Missing Sunday's race has thrown the gelding's preparation into disarray after a missed barrier trial during extended wet weather in Sydney recently had Moore warning the seven-year-old was slightly behind in his preparation.

The trainer had expected that Sunday's Group One 1,400-metre race would help Dan Excel catch up on fitness going into his second planned start in the Toorak Handicap (1,600m) on October 11 but Moore said everything "has become a game of wait and see".

The options become very limited very quickly after missing Sunday, and there is a question mark on having him fit enough to run in the Group One Toorak first-up.