Throwback to Japan's Cup Quinella as Bend The Knee strikes
Bend The Knee became the second winner of the Melbourne Cup Carnival to progress from a Newcastle maiden victory in October to stakes success at Flemington in November after taking out a competitive running of the Listed Amanda Elliott (1400m) on Saturday that sparked memories of one of Flemington’s most famous contests of the 21st century.
The John O’Shea-trained Bend The Knee joined Willowy, who took out the Group 2 ZED RUN Wakeful Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 Kennedy Oaks (2500m) double this week, as a Newcastle maiden winner to take a step forward on the biggest stage of them all.
Ridden by Kerrin McEvoy with blinkers applied for the first time, Bend The Knee – sporting the Carl Holt royal blue and red colours that will also be carried by Group 1 Paramount+ Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) favourite Zaaki – defeated Port Louis by a nose with Daily Bugle a further length and a half away in third.
Among Bend The Knee’s part-owners is leviathan Japanese owner-breeder Katsumi Yoshida, who also owns the runner-up outright. It sparked memories of the 2006 Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) when Delta Blues, bred by Yoshida but raced in the name and silks of the Sunday Racing syndicate, defeated Pop Rock, who was owned and raced by Yoshida in the same colours as Port Louis.
“I was a little bit lucky that my horse quickened out of an unfavourable spot, so to speak, given the day’s play so far,” McEvoy said. “I was lucky that they were opening up in front of me and I was able to angle out. He was able to quicken through and got out into a good spot where we needed to be up the middle today.
“He’s a nice young horse that has progressed nicely and on today’s run he enjoyed himself with blinkers on. John is having a great run, too.”
It is likely that Bend The Knee will attempt to emulate Palentino, who won this race in 2015 before going on to win the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) in the autumn.
The Amanda Elliott, registered as the Springtime Stakes, was renamed last year to recognise the contribution to racing and to the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) of former Chair Amanda Elliott, who led the Club from 2017 to 2020.