Great House Books Cup Spot
Great House confirmed his place in Tuesday’s Group 1 Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) with a tough staying victory in Saturday’s Group 3 Lexus Hotham Stakes (2500m), the second race on Penfolds Victoria Derby Day.
The Chris Waller-trained Great House, winner of the Group 3 Newcastle Cup (2300m) in September, sat at 24th in the Lexus Melbourne Cup ballot order on Saturday morning, forcing the stable and owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing Australia to chance their hand in order to confirm his position in Tuesday’s race that stops the nation.
Ridden by James McDonald, Great House settled seventh in the field of nine behind an even tempo set by Group 2 Brisbane Cup (3200m) winner Knights Order. Brought to the centre of the track by McDonald, Great House chased down his old sparring partner Mankayan to win by three-quarters of a length. Another Lexus Melbourne Cup entrant Emissary finished third, three and a half lengths from the winner.
Waller, who made it a double after winning the Paramount+ Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) with Fangirl, was represented by Melbourne foreman Jo Taylor. She said that Great House had impressed in the two weeks since he tackled the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), where he finished fifth to TAB’s Lexus Melbourne Cup favourite Incentivise.
“He came through that Caulfield Cup really well and on Tuesday his work here at Flemington was the work of the morning from my horses,” she said. “He reproduced that today with a very good ride from James. There’s a reason that he’s the champion that he is with rides like that. Absolutely timed to perfection.
“Great House has been a nice sound horse and he’s been honest. Every time we’ve raised the bar he seems to have stepped up to the plate so why not keep doing that? Today, we certainly made sure that we’re in the Melbourne Cup. With 50 kilos, it is obviously a nice light weight to go into a race like that but we have the quest to find a rider to ride at that light weight. I’m sure Chris has pencilled in a few.”
Every Lexus Hotham Stakes winner has also contested the Melbourne Cup since 1999, with Brew (2000) and Shocking (2009) completing the double.
Image: Great House and James McDonald on their way back to scale (Credit: Getty Images)