The dream of a Wimmera-trained Melbourne Cup winner came a step closer to reality last Saturday when Horsham trainer Paul Preusker clinched the golden ticket into the biggest race of his career.
Preusker’s $5000 bargain buy Surprise Baby lined up in the $500,000 Group 3 Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington, the race carrying a ballot exemption to the Lexus Melbourne Cup.
Ridden by Jordan Childs, Surprise Baby settled slightly worse than midfield, in a beautiful rhythm.
The son of Shocking travelled like the winner a long way from home and once in the straight Surprise Baby wound up and really started to work to the line.
Over the concluding stages, the five-year-old proved the dominant stayer, defeating Supernova by 1½ lengths.
Surprise Baby has now earned $723,735 over a 10-start career, shortening into as little as $9 for the race that stops a nation.
Caulfield trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace dominated Tuesday’s Donald meeting with a winning treble.
Thought of That ($3.10) took out the 1620m maiden plate under Linda Meech, then Bronski Girl ($1.65 favourite) and Fabian’s Spirit ($4.40) won the benchmark 58 (1200m) and benchmark 64 (1350m) respectively for Harry Coffey.
Coffey notched a treble of his own, having earlier won on Tempo ($5.50) for Kevin Corstens in a 1000-metre maiden, while Meech completed a double on the Lindsay Park-trained November in the 1350-metre maiden.