At Ballarat in Melbourne, stakes-winning stallion Grand Reve (Canny Lad-Recce, by Spectacular Love) added a black-type success when 7YO Australian-bred gelding Grand Dreamer (Grand Reve-Dream Lady, by Testa Rossa) unwound a strong sustained run to claim his maiden stakes victory in the $300,000 Listed Ballarat Cup (2200m) for 3YO+, defeating Oncidium Ruler & Grey Lion. Trainer Robert Smerdon said the rain that fell prior to the race payed into Grand Dreamer's hands. "I looked at the forecast a week ago and they said showers on Friday and Saturday and I thought, 'well, if it's going to rain anywhere it'll rain in Ballarat'," Smerdon told racing.com. "But still it was a big ask. I didn't know if he was good enough to win a Ballarat Cup." Smerdon added: "The weather today brought him into the race and we rode him in that conservative fashion and it came off." Grand Dreamer improved his record to 9 wins and 16 placings from 39 starts for $435,000 in earnings.
At Flemington in Melbourne, 5YO Irish-bred gelding Vengeur Masque (Monsun-Venetian Beauty, by Lear Fan) continued his excellent recent form when scoring a determined win in the $300,000 Gr3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) for 3YO+, defeating Grey Lion & Wheal Leisure. A two-time winner in France before transferring to the Mike Moroney stable in early 2016, Vengeur Masque improved his record to 4 wins (including the Gr3 Geelong Cup) and 5 placings (including the Gr3 Lexus Stakes, Gr3 VRC Queen Elizabeth Stakes & Listed Mornington Cup) from 20 starts for $739,593 in earnings. Trainer Mike Moroney said he hoped that the victory would ensure Vengeur Masque received a higher rating for next year's Melbourne Cup. "I was really disappointed that he missed the Cup this year as I'm sure he would have run very well," Moroney told racing.com. "But he might be in the next few Cups now that he's grown up. He was a late foal and he's taken some time but now he's got the strength and maturity to really challenge." He added: "He reminds me a lot of Brew [2000 Melbourne Cup winner] in that he's a strong and consistent stayer.''
At Cranbourne in Victoria, Darley's former Champion Australian Sire Exceed And Excel (Danehill-Patrona, by Lomond) added a black-type success when Godolphin’s 4YO UK-bred gelding Folkswood (Exceed And Excel-Magic Nymph, by Galileo) made an impressive Australian debut when running out an easy winner of the $300,000 Listed Cranbourne Cup (2025m) for 3YO+, defeating Berisha & Grey Lion. Trained by Charlie Appleby for Sheikh Mohammed, Folkswood improved his record to 4 wins and 7 placings (including the Gr1 Jebel Hatta Stakes & Gr3 earl Of Sefton Stakes) from 13 starts for $502,318 in earnings. Folkswood is expected to have his next start in either the Gr1 Cox Plate on Saturday week or the Gr1 Emirates (formerly Mackinnon Stakes) on the final day of the Melbourne Cup carnival. “He is a really nice horse,” jockey Kerrin McEvoy told racing.com. “He’s got a high cruising speed and he galloped strongly off that and I think Charlie has left a little bit of improvement in him.” Travelling foreman Chris Connett commented: “Charlie is watching back home and I’m sure he’ll speak to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed about a plan and we’ll go from there.”
The final field has been declared and the barrier draw conducted for Australia's most famous race, the $6 million Gr1 Melbourne Cup (3200m), to be run at Flemington tomorrow. The Godolphin team have the top two in the betting with Cox Plate runner-up Hartnell currently favourite at $5 ahead of Oceanographer at $6.50. Both horses have drawn midfield in barriers 12 and 11 respectively. Brilliant Caulfield Cup winner Jameka represents good value at $8 and has drawn favourably in barrier 3, while the only other horse under double-figure odds is the Aidan O'Brien-trained Bondi Beach at $9. The capacity 24-horse field is:
1. BIG ORANGE (Michael Bell-Jamie Spencer) 57kg (7)
2. OUR IVANHOWE (Lee & Anthony Freedman-Dwayne Dunn) 57kg (6)
3. CURREN MIROTIC (Osamu Hirata-Tommy Berry) 56.5kg (18)
4. BONDI BEACH (Aidan O'Brien-Ryan Moore) 56kg (5)
5. EXOSPHERIC (Lee & Anthony Freedman-D Oliver) 56kg (13)
6. HARTNELL (John O'Shea-James McDonald) 56kg (12)
7. WHO SHOT THEBARMAN (Chris Waller-Hugh Bowman) 56kg (20)
8. WICKLOW BRAVE (William Mullins-Frankie Dettori) 56kg (24)
9. ALMOONQITH (David & B Hayes & T Dabernig-M Walker) 54.5kg (19)
10. GALLANTE (Robert Hickmott-Blake Shinn) 54.5kg (2)
11. GRAND MARSHAL (Chris Waller-Ben Melham) 54.5kg (9)
12. JAMEKA (Ciaron Maher-Nicholas Hall) 54.5kg (3)
13. HEARTBREAK CITY (Tony Martin-Joao Moreira) 54kg (23)
14. SIR JOHN HAWKWOOD (John P Thompson-Blake Spriggs) 54kg (14)
15. EXCESS KNOWLEDGE (G Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-Vlad Duric) 53.5kg (21)
16. BEAUTIFUL ROMANCE (Saeed Bin Suroor-Damian Lane) 52.5kg (1)
17. ALMANDIN (Robert Hickmott-Kerrin McEvoy) 52kg (17)
18. ASSIGN (Robert Hickmott-Katelyn Mallyon) 52kg (22)
19. GREY LION (Matt Cumani-Glen Boss) 52kg (16)
20. OCEANOGRAPHER (Charlie Appleby-Chad Schofield) 52kg (11)
21. SECRET NUMBER (Saeed Bin Suroor-Stephen Baster) 52kg (10)
22. PENTATHLON (John Wheeler-Mark Du Plessis) 51.5kg (4)
23. QEWY (Charlie Appleby-Craig Williams) 51.5kg (15)
24. ROSE OF VIRGINIA (Lee & Shannon Hope-Ben Thompson) 51kg (8)
Click here for all the form for Melbourne Cup day at Flemington.
At Saint-Cloud in France on Sunday, Coolmore's Gr1-winning son of Danehill and former champion Australian sire Fastnet Rock (Danehill-Piccadilly Circus, by Royal Academy) added a European Group success winner when 3YO Irish-bred colt One Foot In Heaven (Fastnet Rock-Pride, by Peintre Celebre) scored by 1-length for trainer Alain De Royer Dupre in the Gr3 Prix d'Hedouville (12 furlongs) for 3YO+, over fellow 3YO colt Harlem (Champs Elysees-Casual, by Nayef) & 4YO entire Grey Lion (Galileo-Grey Lilas, by Danehill). One Foot In Heaven advanced his record to 4 wins (including the Listed Prix Lord Seymour) and 1 placing from 6 starts for €95,250 earnings. The beautifully bred One Foot In Heaven is the fourth foal to race for former champion French mare Pride, winner of three Gr1 races namely the Prix de Saint-Cloud, British Champion Stakes & Hong Kong Cup. She was also runner-up to Rail Link in the 2006 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. One Foot In Heaven is also a direct descendent of influential US mare Miss Disco, best known as the dam of champion racehorse and breed-shaping legendary sire Bold Ruler.
The 6YO mare Shepishir (Shepherd's Field-Elishir, by Spectacular Bid) grabbed a last-stride victory by a head in the $100,000 Listed Goldmarket Handicap (1300m) at the Gold Coast in Queensland. Shepishir (ridden by Jim Byrne for trainer Bryan Guy) edged out favoured 5YO gelding October Grey (Lion Hunter-Totteridge, by Semipalatinsk) & front-running 8YO gelding Damigos (Danehill Dancer-Still Friends, by Oenjay Star). Shepishir took her record to 15 wins & 15 placings (including runner-up at her previous start in the Listed Just Now Quality over 1300m at Eagle Farm on December 16 & the 2006 Listed Bright Shadow Quality over 1200m at Doomben) from 48 starts for $316,975 earnings.