Bart Cummings’ dream of lining up an 88th Melbourne Cup starter is still alive after his gutsy Moonee Valley Cup winner from the weekend Precedence scored a one kilogram penalty from Racing Victoria’s Executive General Manager of Racing Greg Carpenter today.
The penalty, which a number are arguing could have been more, elevated the veteran Zabeel eight-year-old to 29th on the ballot for Tuesday week’s $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Precedence became just the fifth horse in history to win dual editions of the Group 2 Drake International Cup (2500m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday having also won the race back in 2010.
Now they are fighting to make the capacity 24-starter Melbourne Cup field at Flemington Racecourse on November 5, which would be their fourth consecutive appearance in the ‘race that stops a nation’.
When prepared solely by the ‘Cups’ King’ Bart Cummings, now 85, Precedence ran 9th (2012), 11th (2011) and 8th (2010) in the world’s richest handicap.
Their form this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival however has been there best yet, the horse now trained in partnership with Cummings’ grandson James, 25.
The duo looked to have unlocked the key to this warhorse who, like many other Zabeels, is just hitting their peak at eight.
Bart is the most successful Melbourne Cup trainer in history having won the race 12 times, his attempt at a fairytale baker’s dozen selling stories for 2013.
Carpenter however wasn’t swayed by the story and penalised the horse as he saw fit for their Cox Plate effort where Precedence came from well back to beat a good field by a minimum one and a half lengths.
“The penalty takes Precedence back to the same weight he carried when running ninth to Green Moon in last year’s Emirates Melbourne Cup,” Carpenter explained to Racing Victoria.
“Since then he has won the Group 3 Premiers Cup during the Brisbane Winter Carnival and was simply too good for his rivals in the Group 2 Drake International Cup at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
“The penalty is the same given to Vatuvei for winning the 2012 renewal at Moonee Valley and does not guarantee the horse a start in the race.”
The weight impost saw Precedence go up from 52kg to 53kg, but they still need five above them in the updated Melbourne Cup order of entry to withdraw to earn a guaranteed start.
He may actually need an even higher attrition rate too as there are still two races on the Victoria Derby Day program at Flemington on Saturday offering the winner a Melbourne Cup ballot exemption: the $1 million Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) and the $300,000 Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m).
“Precedence was 45th in the Order of Entry prior to Saturday’s victory,” Carpenter added.
“As a result of the withdrawals at the second acceptance stage and the 1kg penalty issued today, the horse has moved to 29th in the Order of Entry.
“With the top 24 at final acceptance time allotted a start, Precedence must win the Mackinnon or Lexus Stakes at Flemington on Saturday or rely on attrition to get into the final field.”
Precedence has firmed in from triple figures in Melbourne Cup betting to $61, a price indicative of the fact there’s still a long way to go before they are assured of a run.
To get behind Precedence as a Melbourne Cup roughie at a great price head over to Ladbrokes.com.au where the latest odds on the country’s showcase race are going off!