Walter McShane’s visiting Tasmanian stayer Norsqui earned a coveted 2012 Caulfield Cup ballot exemption for the spring after scoring an upset victory in the Mornington Cup in Melbourne on Wednesday afternoon.
The Matsqui five-year-old went out as a $26 shot in the Luxbet markets for the $300,000 Listed Mornignton Cup (2400m), but with the pressure on the event turned into a genuine staying test which suited the stay-all-day Norsqui.
It was a wonderful hometown cup victory for locally-residing hoop Chris Symons, and a great result for the bookies as the short-priced favourite Power O’Raylee and market-mover Western Jewel both finished well outside the Mornington Cup Trifecta crossing ninth and fifth respectively.
“What a great cup to win,” Symons said.
“I’m a local here and that makes all the difference.”
Early on after jumping from the far outside gate Richoman speared across to lead and set the pace.
With 1000-metres to go things heated up very quickly as Heez Born Lucky moved up to hit the front, the pace quickened and the field began to wind up early.
Travelling towards the bend for home Apprehend raced into the picture as did Sea Galleon racing along in third.
Power O’Raylee, meanwhile, looked flat and had nowhere to go.
By the 850-metres things had picked right up, favouring the dead-set stayers in the field.
“My intentions were to go forward,” Symons admitted.
“We got a lot further back than I would have anticipated.”
On the straight Norsqui went to the front and while trainer McShane was in the crowd worrying his horse had peaked too soon, he had nothing to fear.
Despite a strong challenge by European import Drunken Sailor, now under the care of Michael Moroney, Norsqui held them at bay charged home in a boilover Mornignton Cup result.
On the line Norsqui ($26) had a comfortable two and a half lengths to spare over the 60kg top-weight Drunken Sailor ($9.50), formerly prepared by Luca Cumani, while Cranbourne galloper Sea Galleon ($7), who had every chance, did well to hang on for third.
“I got on Sea Galleon’s back and got home strong,” Symons said.
“I was surprised when he got there (to the front) I thought we got here way too early.
“But he extended when I asked him to respond.
“He kept fighting along.”
McShane said they had decided to target the Mornington Cup after Norsqui ran second behind a very good horse Geegees Blackflash, who went on to win the Group 3 Hobart Cup (2200m), in the Summer Cup over 2100-metres at Hobart on January 22.
It proved a winning move with Norsqui now able to travel back to Melbourne in the spring for a guaranteed start in the $2.5 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2100m) in October should McShane, who also owns a part-share in the horse, chose that path.
“He’s a tough horse,” McShane said.
“I thought he was too far back but he showed more turn of foot today than usual so it was very exciting.”
McShane also ruled Norsqui out of a shot at the $225,000 Group 3 Launceston Cup (2400m) back home on February 29.
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2012 Mornington Cup Finishing Order & Results
Mornington Race 8 – 15/02/2012
|1||6||NORSQUI||Walter McShane||Chris Symons||–||5||54kg||$26|
|2||1||DRUNKEN SAILOR (IRE)||Michael Moroney||Damien Oliver||2.5L||7||60kg||$9.50|
|3||3||SEA GALLEON||Colin & Cindy Alderson||Ben Melham||3.25L||3||54kg||$7|
|4||10||OUR SERENA||Pat Carey||Corey Brown||3.45L||10||54kg||$19|
|5||2||WESTERN JEWEL||Grant Williams||Craig Williams||3.85L||12||54.5kg||$4.60|
|6||5||APPREHEND||Tony Vasil||Steven King||7.1L||11||54kg||$11|
|7||11||PRUSSIAN OFFICER||Steve Richards||Dean Holland||8.6L||9||54kg||$51|
|8||4||UNCHAIN MY HEART||David Hayes||Dwayne Dunn||12.35L||4||54kg||$16|
|9||7||POWER O’RAYLEE||Peter G Moody||Luke Nolen||12.45L||1||54kg||$2.80F|
|10||8||ROYAL MAIL||Dean Howard||Danny Nikolic||12.65L||6||54kg (cd 54.5kg)||$16|
|11||9||HEEZ BORN LUCKY (NZ)||Leigh Childs||Eddie Cassar||18.65L||2||54kg (cd 54.5kg)||$31|
|12||13||RICHOMAN||Jason Warren||Peter Mertens||21.65L||13||54kg||$61|
|13||12||FIREJET||Dean Binaisse||Ms Ruth Bradley||22.9L||8||54kg||$151|
|–||14||APRES||Clinton McDonald||Glen Boss||–||0||–||–|