Promenade scores Cup berth
Grand Promenade has clinched a berth in next month's $8 million Melbourne Cup after the consistent stayer earned his golden ticket via a typically tough performance to win The Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday.
The imported stayer had won three times already this year before Saturday but was languishing down the order for a Melbourne Cup run until he ran clear for jockey John Allen to score in the $750,000 Group 3.
Co-trainer Ciaron Maher said afterwards that Grand Promenade, who is raced by Melbourne Cup-winning owner Gerry Ryan, could go straight into the Melbourne Cup in a little over four weeks.
"He's been racing really well all year and he's got a great base (of fitness), so he might go straight to the Cup now," said Maher, who trains in partnership with David Eustace. "This is the race we earmarked for him and he's achieved it, so that is very satisfying.
"He's the right horse. He's a proper two-miler. I was rapt when they went a decent tempo the whole way today.
"The team have done a really good job with this horse. He's been up all year. We gave him a freshen and Johnny Allen, it was probably a 10-out-of-10 ride.
"I was giving him a bake last night but he's just a phenomenal jockey, he's in good form and I'm rapt that he won that one."
Maher won The Bart Cummings last year with Persan, who went on to run fifth in the Melbourne Cup, and he said Grand Promenade boasts a similar formline.
Starting at $5.50, Grand Promenade had his rivals chasing a long way from home and on the line had a one-and-a-quarter-length margin over Tralee Rose ($8.50), with $51 shot Master Of Wine just a neck away in third.
Allen said Grand Promenade deserved his victory after such a consistent 2021.
"He's been a good horse to me," he said. "He's such an honest horse, always gives his all and the race couldn't have panned out any better for us today.
"He was going well and there was nice pressure on to the first bend. Brett (Prebble on Pondus) looked as if he was intent on leading and once I was happy that he was going to roll along at a good tempo, I was happy to sit in behind.
"He travelled well and I was able to pop up outside them in the straight. Probably was in front (early), as you know it is a long straight and it took a long time, but we weren't going that quick up the straight and I couldn't hear anything coming, so it was a good feeling for the last 50 yards."
Allen conceded he will struggle to get down to the horse's Cup weight of 51 kilograms.
"I think it is a bit light for me, but he'll be a good ride for someone," he said.
Symon Wilde said he was delighted with Tralee Rose's performance for second but lamented that she remained stranded outside the Melbourne Cup field.
"She was terrific and I thought Dean's (Holland) ride was superb to get her across and give her every chance," he said.
"I thought that last 100 metres, she was digging in again and with 51 kilograms, I'd love to get her into the Melbourne Cup.
"We might go Geelong Cup and hope for a win and a penalty or just take our chances (at the ballot) and see if she can sneak in."
John Allen urging Grand Promenade to victory (Image: Racing Photos)