A run in the 24-horse Melbourne Cup 2012 field on the first Tuesday of November at Flemington in certainly not guaranteed for John Gosden’s exciting European raider Gatewood after they received only 1kg from Racing Victoria’s chief handicapper Greg Carpenter for their Geelong Cup victory.
Five-year-old Galileo stallion Gatewood continued the magic run of the internationals in the $300,000 Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) on Wednesday when they were given a beautiful ride by Glen Boss to score a fast-finishing win over Chateau Margaux in the 2012 edition.
They became the third straight overseas-trained horse to win the Geelong Cup joining Americain (2010) and Dunaden (2011).
But unlike the two French horses, continuing on to also take out the $6.2 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) may never eventuate for Gatewood.
Prior to their Geelong Cup victory Gatewood was 41st on the Melbourne Cup order of entry with 51.5kg and paying $21 in the Melbourne Cup odds.
Today Carpenter opted to hand them a 1kg impost, a half kilo more than both Americain and Dunaden received for their respective Geelong Cup victories, highlighting the fact that the Geelong Cup winner was not exempt from Melbourne Cup ballot.
“Giving account to the merit of the performance, the quality of the race, the manner in which it was contested and also the relevant weights of yesterday’s opposition, I have penalised Gatewood 1kg to 52.5kg in the Emirates Melbourne Cup for his win in the Centrebet Geelong Cup,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter also said that the slow tempo of the Geelong Cup, accredited to the small seven horse field, meant that the winner was always going to be the horse that reeled off the best late sectionals in the sprint home down the straight and it was hard to use such a race as a genuine Melbourne Cup guide.
“The Geelong Cup was run at a very slow tempo, with the first 1800m of the race covered in approximately two minutes,” he said.
“The race eventuated into a sprint home with Gatewood running his last 600m in 33.02 seconds and Chateau Margaux (2nd), Brigantin (3rd) and Maluckyday (4th) all running their last 600m in less than 33 seconds.
“Gatewood had 2kg less than Brigantin yesterday and with the penalty issued he now has 0.5kg less than him in the Melbourne Cup representing a turnaround of 1.5kg for a margin of 0.85 of a length.
“With respect to beaten runners Maluckyday and Tac de Boistron, who are inside the top 24 for the Melbourne Cup, Gatewood now meets them 2kg worse than in yesterday’s contest.”
But even with the penalty Gatewood is far from assured of a Melbourne Cup run sitting now only 36th on the ballot with 52.5kg but they are into $11 in the Melbourne Cup betting markets at bookmaker.com.au.
They would need at least 12 horses higher than them to drop out of contention to make the cut for the world’s richest handicap, a notable attrition rate that may not occur with the only known non-acceptors inside the top 24 at this stage behind Manighar and Seville.
2012 Melbourne Cup second declarations are due to be taken on Monday, October 29, which will paint a clearer picture as to exactly how close Gatewood is of making the final Melbourne Cup field announced on Victoria Derby Day, Saturday November 3.
Connections were hoping that Gatewood would receive at least 1.5kg from Carpenter today which was the penalty awarded to the first international Geelong Cup winner Media Puzzle (2002) who, after setting the track record at Geelong, went on to carry 52.5kg to victory in that year’s Melbourne Cup.
Gatewood previously attempted to earn a Melbourne Cup start when making their Aussie race debut in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield on October 13.
They only managed to finish seventh to French raider Shahwardi after a luckless run however.
The last chances for horses to earn a penalty for the Melbourne Cup 2012 are then the $200,000 Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) and the $1 million Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on Derby Day, one of which is likely to be on the agenda for Wednesday’s Geelong Cup third place-getter Brigantin.
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