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A boilover result in Saturday’s $300,000 Group 2 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington has seen fairy-tale winner Littorio earn a ballot exemption into the 2011 Caulfield Cup, upsetting the ante-post odds on the Melbourne Spring Carnival features.
Nigel Blackiston’s Bellotto seven-year-old Littorio resumed after nearly 500 days out of the action, making a heroic return to the turf when defeating a crack field as a $41 outsider in the 2011 Makybe Diva Stakes.
The talented but injury-prone galloper won the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) in April last year before finishing ninth to Jessicabeel in the Sydney Cup, after which they were vetted and subsequently sent for a stint at an equine hospital.
It was tears of joy and not heartache on Saturday for connections of the brave Littorio who, ridden by Craig Williams, held on in a big finish to defeat Michael Moroney’s winter weight-for-age standout Glass Harmonium ($5) by a half length while the Robert Hickmott-trained import Midas Touch ($81) was a mere nose further away in third.
Boom Western Australian raider Playing God ($6.50) was far from disgraced finishing another nose back four fourth.
“A lot of hard work has gone into the horse,” Blackiston said of Littorio.
“To return as he did today is unbelievable.
“No one game him a chance but his previous form was as good as any horse in the field.”
The Flemington race results for the Makybe Diva Stakes were not only an upset for the punters, but also had a notable impact on the futures odds for the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 15.
Littorio, previously not qualified for the Caulfield Cup 2011 field, became the second horse along with likely non-acceptor, Japan’s King Top Gun, to be exempt from elimination for the race.
Before Saturday, 2011 Caulfield Cup betting at Luxbet was lead by Peter Moody’s up-and-coming mare Lights Of Heaven while Littorio was well down the markets as a triple figure roughie.
In the Makybe Diva Stakes Lights Of Heaven was disappointing finishing nearly two lengths away fifth after jumping odds-on favourite at $1.85, and has such drifted out in the Caulfield Cup markets.
She is now the $9.50 second-elect behind new favourite Scarlett Lady ($9).
Littorio has firmed into $21 to win the Caulfield Cup, while Saturday’s first-up runner-up Glass Harmonium has also gained popularity and sits as the equal $10 third favourite in Caulfield Cup betting behind another Flemington winner from Saturday, the Mark Kavanagh-trained December Draw.
There is no confirmed spring campaign for Littorio, however, with Blackiston having also entered them for the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22 and the $6.2 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday November 1.
“He’s been entered for everything,” an emotional Blackiston said on Saturday.
“Who knows, he might even be a Cox Plate horse.”
Luxbet are paying $41 for Littorio to win the Melbourne Cup in markets lead by Shamrocker ($11), while in their 2011 Cox Plate odds Littorio is rated a $26 chance with Whobegotyou ($7.50) retaining his favouritism.
View full spring betting markets open now at Luxbet to get the best prices on all the hopeful horses this season.
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