Gold Bullion, Harlow Mist emerge as Melbourne Cup Carnival contenders

24 September 2023 Written by VRC

A host of Melbourne Cup Carnival candidates put themselves forward at Flemington Racecourse on Sunday as Spring Classics Preview Day lived up to its billing as a stepping stone for future stars.

With the Melbourne Cup Carnival fast approaching, finding Flemington form can be crucial and for Sunday’s winners, they now boast a victory at Headquarters ahead of Australia’s premier race week.

In particular, for Penfolds Victoria Derby Preview (1800m) winner Gold Bullion and Kennedy Oaks Preview (1800m) victor Harlow Mist, success on Sunday has earned them an automatic berth into their respective Melbourne Cup Carnival features - the $2 million Group 1 Penfolds Victoria Derby (2500m) on Saturday 4 November and the $1 million Group 1 Kennedy Oaks (2500m) on Thursday 9 November.

A big weekend for Flemington-based trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott continued as Gold Bullion entered Penfolds Victoria Derby calculations with his Preview victory under Blake Shinn.

Having won the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) on Saturday with the Group 1 Kennedy Champions Mile (1600m)-bound Alligator Blood, they produced Gold Bullion to join a strong Melbourne Cup Carnival team that also includes Lexus Melbourne Cup Golden Ticket holder Goldman.

Meanwhile, trainer John Sargent is renowned for his prowess with staying fillies as well as his affinity for Flemington and the Melbourne Cup Carnival, having won the VRC Oaks with Kirramosa in 2013 in addition to three victories in the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m), also for three-year-old fillies.

Sargent, who won the Kennedy Oaks Preview last year with So Dazzling, is daring to dream of further Oaks glory with Harlow Mist after her gutsy win in this year’s Preview with Michael Dee in the saddle.

The card also saw last year’s Penfolds Victoria Derby fifth placegetter Muramasa return to take out the VRC Member Andrew Aitken Trophy (1630m), a race won by recent Group 1 PFD Food Services Makybe Diva Stakes winner Mr Brightside in 2021.

Victoria Racing Club (VRC) Chief Executive Steve Rosich said that Spring Classics Preview Day was a fantastic day of racing and was looking forward to the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

“Spring Classics Preview Day has quickly developed a reputation for producing future stars and, based on some of the performances today, I am sure that this year is no exception,” Mr Rosich said.

“Trainers like John Sargent and the Waterhouse/Bott partnership know what it takes to win our Melbourne Cup Carnival features. They have had success in the Previews before too and I can’t wait to see them back in just over a month for Australia’s greatest race week.”

“It was great to see more than 400 people register and attend the inaugural Flemington Open Day, getting to meet some of the country’s leading trainers and see inside their Flemington stables,” Mr Rosich said.

“The way in which it was embraced by trainers and the public shows there is an appetite for that rare, exclusive access and we look forward to being able to offer the Stables Tour again in the Autumn.”

The next race day at Flemington will be TAB Turnbull Stakes Day on Saturday, 7 October, the final race day at Headquarters before the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

The meeting will feature the Group 1 TAB Turnbull Stakes (2000m), a race that will see Hong Kong superstar Romantic Warrior and exciting international West Wind Blows take on the best of Australia and New Zealand, while another Lexus Melbourne Cup Golden Ticket will be on offer in the Group 3 Lexus Bart Cummings (2500m).

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