Lunar Flare grabs golden Cup ticket
Lunar Flare has secured a ballot exemption into the Melbourne Cup with her win at Flemington.
Lunar Flare has for the second year running earned herself a ballot exemption into the Melbourne Cup.
The Graeme Begg -trained mare won her way into the 2022 Melbourne Cup via victory in the Group 3 The Bart Cummings (2500m) last October, only to be ruled out of the Cup by Racing Victoria vets with a lameness issue on race morning.
A ballot exemption was up for grabs at Flemington on Saturday in the Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes (2800m), and it proved a cakewalk for Lunar Flare.
Giving Michael Dee back-to-back wins in the two Listed races on Saturday's program, Lunar Flare ($5) raced to a 5-½ lengths from the $2.50 favourite White Marlin with Hasta La War ($31) a long neck away.
Begg said he would work back from the Melbourne Cup on the first Tuesday in November to map out a program for Lunar Flare.
He said last year's Melbourne Cup episode was behind him and the stable was now intent on getting Lunar Flare into this year's Cup in the best possible shape.
Begg trusted his instincts in giving Lunar Flare five weeks between runs after finishing third to White Marlin in the Group 3 Easter Cup (2100m) at Sandown on April 8.
"It was a fabulous effort and it's great the owners were patient," Begg said.
"They allowed us to put her away, get her ready for this race and they backed my judgement not to run her again after the Easter Cup.
"That was vital as it was a very hard run race.
"It was a bit of a war of attrition that day on the deteriorating track."
While Lunar Flare was giving a healthy start in the middle stages of Saturday's race, Begg did not think White Marlin could keep carving out such quick sections.
Dee said the way the race was run had played into Lunar Flare's hands.
"I always knew they were going to go a gallop and keep it genuine which I was happy about," Dee said.
"She travelled nice and relaxed well enough. She is a mare that can grab the bridle a little bit and get a little strong, but she was great then.
"There was a question mark whether she would get any sort of trip, but the way she has come back this prep and the way she is relaxing, the way she won today, 3200 metres isn't going to be an issue for her.
"It wasn't our year last year. Hopefully this year will be different."