The second Victoria Derby Day race, and the first of two offering the winner a Melbourne Cup 2011 ballot exemption, has been run and won at Flemington with the Hawkes-trained warhorse Niwot claiming an authoritative victory $250,000 Group 3 The Lexus Stakes (2500m).
The game old Galileo seven-year-old put in a genuine Melbourne Cup trial today ahead of Tuesday’s big event, Niwot needing The Lexus Stakes victory to get into the field having previously sat 34th on the order of entry.
Coming off an unlucky 12th in the Caulfield Cup, Niwot was back to their best at Flemington for the Lexus, winning their third race from five attempts at the iconic course.
Race favourite in the Luxbet markets was Lloyd Williams’ Caulfield Cup runner-up Green Moon who made the Lexus a true stamina test hitting the front early and setting a hectic pace.
Attempting to lead-all-the-way and get a Melbourne Cup start, Green Moon retained their lead all the way until the turn for home with the likes of Older Than Time, Midnight Martini and Showcause settling in the top half of the field throughout.
Coming into the turn Green Moon looked to still be travelling as well as any of his chasing rivals, but once they hit the straight it was all over for them.
Green Moon had nothing as Niwot responded on the outside, jockey Dean Yendall hitting the button on the eventual winner who jumped to the front with 400 metres to go.
From there it was all about Niwot as they raced away to win by a commanding three and a half lengths, coasting by the end of their sensational run down the straight to canter home and into the 2011 Melbourne Cup field.
The Peter Moody-trained Macedonian did well to finish second, unfortunately not enough to get them into Melbourne Cup calculations as they sat 38th in the ballot, while Anudjawun pulled out an eye-catching run to come from near last up into third.
It was back-to-back wins in The Lexus Stakes for the father and sons Hawkes training team as they took out the feature 12 months ago with the champion Maluckyday who went on to run a very brave second behind Americain in last year’s Melbourne Cup.
Today’s Lexus should provide a true Melbourne Cup form indication because of the staying test that Green Moon made it, Niwot an older horse but still lightly raced with just 22 starts.
While co-trainer Wayne Hawkes has every reason to be excited going into Tuesday’s showdown with Niwot, he is far from convinced today’s Lexus Stakes winner is in the same realm as last year’s.
“It was a good effort,” Hawkes said.
“We rode him patiently one off the fence.
“His record at Flemington is outstanding.
“This bloke loves the wet, but he loves the dry too.
“Maluckyday’s one of the best horses I’ve ever touched…and this bloke is no Maluckyday.
“This bloke is just a tradesman workhorse.
“It’s going to be quite a good little story if something happens on Tuesday.”
Niwot’s jockey Dean Yendall now gets their opportunity on the big stage, the hoop impressed with how easily the horse won the Lexus.
“This is what it’s all about,” he said.
“He bounced out and had a lovely run in transit, I pushed the button a bit early…but he was going so well.
“He put them away easy.”
Prior to today’s win Niwot was at $101 to win the Melbourne Cup through Luxbet, a price that is going to be slashed.
There is also a chance that Racing Victoria’s chief handicapper Greg Carpenter will penalise Niwot for today’s win, the horse currently on just 51kg for the Cup; they carried 55kg in the Lexus.
The Lexus Stakes 2011 results are sure to have a big impact on the Melbourne Cup betting markets at Luxbet, the final field for the ‘race that stops a nation’ to be released after the Derby Day action this afternoon.
Races.com.au will be first to publish the Melbourne Cup 2011 field and barriers, so stay tuned.
In the meantime get ready for Cup Day by opening your new account with Luxbet, and if you deposit just $25 and enter the code 100BONUSBET you will get a $100 bonus bet on the house!
2011 The Lexus Stakes Results & Finishing Order
|1st||5||NIWOT(7)||Dean Yendall||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||55.0||2-37.53|
|2nd||11||MACEDONIAN(4)||Luke Nolen||Peter G Moody||53.5||3.0L|
|3rd||14||ANUDJAWUN(10)||Corey Brown||Shaun Dwyer||53.5||5.3L|
|4th||9||RAFFAELLO(9)||Nikita McLean||Patrick F Ryan||53.5||7.8L|
|5th||10||SHOWCAUSE(5)||Craig Newitt||Frank Ritchie||53.5||9.5L|
|6th||15||REPRISAL(3)||Brenton Avdulla||David Hayes||53.5||9.7L|
|7th||13||SPECHENKA(1)||Danny Nikolic||Ben Ahrens||53.5||10.1L|
|8th||6||TACTIC(8)||Brett Prebble||David Hayes||55.0||11.1L|
|9th||2||BOOMING(2)||Dwayne Dunn||Jeff Lynds||56.5||12.1L|
|10th||8||GALIZANI(13)||Timothy Bell||John P Thompson||53.5||12.9L|
|11th||7||OLDER THAN TIME(12)||Craig Williams||Gai Waterhouse||54.0||13.1L|
|12th||3||GREEN MOON(6)||Nicholas Hall||Robert Hickmott||56.0||21.1L|
|13th||12||MIDNIGHT MARTINI(11)||Michael Rodd||Mark Kavanagh||54.0||51.1L|
|Src||1||TULLAMORE||Nash Rawiller||Gai Waterhouse|
|Src||4||MOYENNE CORNICHE||Mark Zahra||Brian Ellison|
|Src||16||HOME ON A WING||Kerrin McEvoy||Anthony Cummings|