Tralee Rose out to make history in the Lexus Melbourne Cup
A significant Flemington milestone awaits Tralee Rose should she take out the Lexus Melbourne Cup after she created history with a tenacious win in the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m).
The Symon Wilde-prepared Tralee Rose became the first winner of Flemington's historic summer staying handicap, the Listed Bagot Handicap (2800m), to take out the Group 3 Geelong Cup and will now attempt to become the first ever horse to complete the Bagot-Lexus Melbourne Cup double in the same calendar year.
Only one horse has won both races before, with Lord Fury taking the 1961 Melbourne Cup before adding the Bagot in 1963.
Tralee Rose was gifted an ideal trail behind leader Knights Order, darting back to the inside under Dean Holland before fending off Dr Drill to score by a half-length. Third was Hasta La War, keeping his fairytale Lexus Melbourne Cup hopes alive for South Australian trainer Sue Murphy.
A penalty for Tralee Rose, if any, will be announced by Racing Victoria's Greg Carpenter but Wilde is already allowing himself to dream with the mare set to gain a Lexus Melbourne Cup start regardless.
"It's dawning on us now that we've got a genuine live hope in the Melbourne Cup," Wilde said.
"She's a horse that we found in New Zealand as a yearling and you always look at them and think, 'Could this be the one?'
"She won her maiden at Geelong and to be back here just over 12 months later and winning the Geelong Cup, a top five hope in the Melbourne Cup, it's what you dream about. It's amazing for everyone involved and now it's onwards and upwards to the Cup!"
Tralee Rose now sits on the third line of TAB betting for the Lexus Melbourne Cup at $15, behind Caulfield Cup winner Incentivise at $2.30, and the Warrnambool-based Wilde believes that her Geelong win cemented her legitimate claims as a contender for the ‘race that stops the nation’™.
"I thought she was there to be beaten and she toughed it out late," he said. "From a Melbourne Cup point of view, it was really pleasing. She was a bit dour in the Bart Cummings and again here, but it's a real positive going forward.
"All the work is done, we were grappling with whether to run and I'm glad we did because I think that will top her off. It's not like she is falling in, either; I think she was getting stronger late as well. That bodes well for the Melbourne Cup."
Meanwhile, a blueblood Penfolds Victoria Derby contender emerged in the Listed Geelong Classic (2200m) as the Tony Pike-trained Tutukaka came from well back off a brutal tempo to score a three-quarter length win over Character.
No horse has won the Geelong Classic-Penfolds Victoria Derby double since Haymaker in 1974, although both Preferment (2014) and Rebel Raider (2008) were placed at Geelong before taking the Flemington blue riband.
Tutukaka will now head to the Penfolds Victoria Derby Day feature, two years after his half-sister Melody Belle swept to victory in the TAB Empire Rose Stakes on the same card. Melody Belle ended her career with 14 Group 1 victories to her name and jockey Damian Lane believes that her Tavistock half-brother can add his first on October 30.
"I think he'll be right, he's a tough horse who's always shown he wants a trip," Lane said. "It was a classy performance today.”
Pike is training Tutukaka remotely from his base in Cambridge, New Zealand, with long-time family friend Tony Noonan called upon to implement his plans.
"I've been mates with Tony and his family for nearly 30 years so I was honoured for him to ring me," Noonan said. "He's a good trainer, he knew what he wanted to do with this horse and he'd upped the ante since last start to have him spot on today. He wanted him ridden back, the speed was genuine and he enjoyed that.
"I wouldn't think the Derby would be beyond him, he's a lovely big horse and he relaxed beautifully today, I think he's got more to come."
Tutukaka was cut to $15 for the Penfolds Victoria Derby with TAB, behind $3.50 favourite Forgot You.
Image: Tralee Rose winning the Geelong Cup (Credit: Racing Photos)