Dreams of emulating their older three-quarter sister Makybe Diva with a Melbourne Cup win were ignited over the weekend when the Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained La Amistad won the $100,000 Listed WJ McKell Cup (2400m).
Blue pedigree mare La Amistad broke through at stakes level at Royal Randwick on Saturday, the four-year-old daughter of Redoute’s Choice out of Riverman mare Tugela winning the 2014 WJ McKell Cup by a blistering four lengths.
Taking her record to five wins and two minor placings from 11 starts, La Amistad has well and truly entered calculations for the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on the first Tuesday of November.
The world’s richest handicap is a race her iconic relation Makybe Diva holds the record of three consecutive wins in after dominating the spring feature from 2003 – 2005.
While still unsure whether La Amistad is of the same class, the lightly-raced galloper went a long way to proving she boasted some of that same scintillating staying ability with her easy WJ McKell triumph.
“She will make her own path,” Hall of Famer John Hawkes told The Australian.
“We will give her a break now and she will be better in the spring and even better next autumn.
“She is a lovely mare to deal with but we won’t be getting too carried away just yet.
“This was an important win because it gets her rating up so she can compete in better races.”
Ridden by Kiwi expat James McDonald the up-and-comer beat home the Joe Pride-trained Destiny’s Kiss ($3.80) saluting as the $2.80 favourite after coming from near last while the Chris Waller-trained Secessio ($10) was a further one and a quarter lengths away in third.
While Team Hawkes were keeping Melbourne Cup emotions in check, McDonald was more excited over the spring potential of La Amistad.
“That was exciting,” he exclaimed post-win on Saturday.
“I have her one around the backside and she just took off.”
La Amistad currently sits as a $31 chance in pre-nomination Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au where The Offer is firm early favourite at $13.
Gai Waterhouse’s Montjeu gelding earned top spot in Melbourne Cup betting after winning three straight in Sydney this autumn including their big four length effort in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) also run over the two miles like it’s Flemington counterpart.
La Amistad’s part-owner Michael Sullivan, former Sportingbet chief executive, was definitely dreaming the Melbourne Cup dream but indicated that patience would be key.
“I would be lying if I said it wasn’t,” Sullivan said.
“It might be too big to dream and it will be up to her trainer.
“We have been very patient with this mare because she is so closely related to Makybe Diva.
“It is just wonderful to see her win the way she did.”
To get behind La Amistad at her current juicy Melbourne Cup price head to our preferred online bookmaker Ladbrokes.com.au where you’ll find all the top futures odds for the upcoming Group 1 races.