Local Flemington-based trainer Nigel Blackiston is looking towards the spring and specifically the Melbourne Cup with a renewed eagerness after his promising three-year-old Right Of Refusal showed potential as a genuine Cups contender with a win on Anzac Day.
Refuse To Bend gelding Right Of Refusal, purchased for just $18,000 as a yearling, enjoyed their third career victory on April 25 when claiming an impressive four length win in the Listed VRC St. Leger (2800m).
The St. Leger was their first black-type assignment and Right Of Refusal handled the step up in class and distance with ease, jockey Michael Walker aboard for the comprehensive victory over the consistent Peter Moody-trained Pins gelding Almodovar.
Blackiston, a former stable foreman for the Cups King Bart Cummings, made comparisons with Right Of Refusal to one of Cummings’ seven St. Leger winners Shiva’s Revenge.
“He reminds me a lot of a horse of Bart’s called Shiva’s Revenge, Blackiston said.
“He took the stepping stone (in the St. Leger) and I’m hoping this fella can continue on that same path.”
After winning the 1991 St. Leger, Shiva’s Revenge went on to run second to their fellow Cummings-trained stablemate and staying champion Let’s Elope in that year’s Melbourne Cup.
Over the years the St. Leger has proved an insightful guide to the Melbourne Cup with 14 subsequent Melbourne Cup champions having won the race including the mighty Phar Lap in 1930.
In between the St. Leger and the Melbourne Cup, Shiva’s Revenge was also able to win the 1991 SA Derby and Blackiston is looking at the same campaign path for Right Of Refusal.
Right Of Refusal is one of 27 early entries for the $350,000 Group 1 SA Derby (2500m) running at Morphettville on May 8 along with the Group 1 The Goodwood.
With loads of talent, as shown in the demolition of their St. Leger rivals, Right Of Refusal also displays the right mannerisms of a Cups horse.
“From day one, when we had this horse at home, he’s just been the most laid back horse,” Blackiston said of Right Of Refusal.
“He sleeps in the paddock, sleeps at home all day and just goes about his business.
“He’s a real professional.”
Futures Melbourne Cup betting has seen a shakeup following the completion of the Melbourne and Sydney Autumn Carnivals as new faces on the staying scene laid their claims while a number of the early Cup favourites failed to impress.
One emerging galloper that caught the eye of Cup punters was the Danny O’Brien-trained filly Shamrocker after she won the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) as a $31 roughie last month before running third to star Kiwi colt Jimmy Choux in the Group 1 AJC Derby (2400m), beating home the boys again in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) and most recently finishing a game second in the Group 1 AJC Oaks (2400m) on a heavy Randwick track.
“She loves Flemington and I’ve got no doubt she’ll be better as a four-year-old and will run two miles (3200m) easily, so it’s a pretty exciting prospect,” O’Brien said following Shamrocker’s win in the Derby.
Also coming into Cups contention for the spring was the Pat Carey-trained Helenus gelding Cedarberg, winner of the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) on April 2 beating home the likes of steady Cup hopefuls including Mourayan and Linton.
“He’ll be nominated for all the major races (during the spring carnival) and while he does look strong at the end of his mile and a half races (2400m), you never really know about two miles,” Carey said of Cedarberg.
Last year’s Melbourne Cup runner-up Maluckyday did not enjoy the same autumn form, the Hawkes-trained galloper unable to finish better than fourth from their three starts and most recently finishing a disappointing seventh in The BMW.