Early favourite for the 2014 Melbourne Cup at Flemington in November, Gai Waterhouse’s Sydney Cup champ The Offer looked spot on ahead of their return in a gallop between races at Rosehill on Saturday.
The rising six-year-old Montjeu gelding is gearing up for their new season campaign this spring and were ultra-impressive in their work over the weekend despite not yet being at peak fitness.
A winner of their last three Sydney starts during autumn by a combined 10 lengths, The Offer was last seen stepping up to the two miles and elite level company for the first time in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) on April 19.
There they hit the lead over the closing 250m and stormed home with regular rider Tommy Berry in the saddle to defeat Opinion by a big four length margin.
That victory over the traditional Cup distance saw them shoot up the ante-post markets for the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m), running on November 4 as the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival’s showcase race.
They currently pay $13 in futures Melbourne Cup betting, a position they confirmed after strutting their stuff at Rosehill Gardens over the weekend.
In a flying effort they ran with Grafton Cup hope Travolta with jockey Josh Parr in the saddle running blistering time and looking very athletic after their spell.
On the line they held Travolta’s measure and clocked a sharp 35.85 seconds for their final 600m.
“He is so exciting. He gives you goosebumps,” Waterhouse told AAP on Saturday.
“They’ve run almost one second faster than the winner of the second race here today.
“Josh (Parr) said he could have gone round again. He’s not fully fit yet but he will be.”
It was a sensational effort made even braver by the fact they hand a tumble as they left a float ahead of the exhibition gallop, uninjured but his hind leg requiring a bandage.
“It’s better for it [the tumble] to happen before an exhibition gallop than on an actual race day,” Waterhouse told The Daily Telegraph.
She also said they’d come through the run well and were looking spot-on for their next prep.
“The Offer has pulled up super, and he’s such a strong big gelding,” she said.
“Tommy Berry was straight on the phone and said, ‘wow, doesn’t he look fantastic?’, and I said, ‘cool your heels, worry about him when you get home’.
“Speed is his best asset. He kept building up momentum in that gallop and he was only half fit.
“He has an amazing anaerobic ability to sustain speed.
“The horse next to him was Travolta, who is ready to race in the Grafton Cup on Thursday.’’
Waterhouse, who won her first Melbourne Cup last year with imported stayer Fiorente, is looking at a Sydney trial Friday week for The Offer before scheduling their first-up run in Victoria.
“He will have a barrier trial at Randwick on Friday week and probably one more trial after that before he heads to Melbourne,” she said.
It could be another bumper spring for Waterhouse too as she is also looking at a run in the world’s richest handicap for recent French purchase Café Society and Pornichet in the 1600m – 2000m features.
Motivator four-year-old Café Society is only lightly raced, the former David Simcock-trained gelding having won three of their 10 starts to date.
They debuted for Waterhouse in their final European run at Ascot on June 20 when third behind Contributer in the Listed Wolferton Handicap (2011m) which was also their debut stakes assignment.
They are set to race again at Goodwood in a month in the Glorious Stakes (2400m).
Pornichet meanwhile is yet to race under Waterhouse’s name, the fellow French galloper also a triple winner.
The Vespone colt is a rising four-year-old and stepped up to Group 1 company in early May running a close third, beaten under two lengths, by Karakaonite over the mile at Longchamp.
They raced again on Sunday morning, Australian time, in the Group 1 Belmont Derby giving Waterhouse her first runner in the US.
However they could only manage to finish ninth behind upset winner Mr Speaker as a 20-1 chance after pulling early and over-racing when hitting the lead at the 2000m mark.
Soon after they tiered over the closing stages and faded down the home straight to defeat just one of their rivals.
They will enter quarantine in England before their trip to Melbourne to target the middle distance features.
“Then next year when he’s a more seasoned horse, we’ll prepare him for the Cup,” Waterhouse said.
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