The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
After much speculation the Anthony Freedman-trained Andrew Ramsden Stakes winner Steel Prince has been cleared of any positive swabs confirming his 2019 Melbourne Cup bid this spring.
The Irish-bred five-year-old won the coveted Melbourne Cup ballot exemption with his narrow victory over Adelaide Cup winner Surprise Baby at Flemington on May 25 in the Listed $400,000 Andrew Ramsden Stakes (2800m).
Celebrations for connections targeting the Group 1 $8 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) on the first Tuesday of November however were put on hold, along with the payment of prizemoney.
Speculation ensured and there were talks that Steel Prince, along with Order Of Command who won the Listed Straight Six (1200m) at the same meeting, had returned positive swabs for a banned substance.
Those rumours were finally put to bed this week with integrity boss Jamie Stier denying any swab irregularities and Racing Victoria confirming the fact.
“Racing Victoria (RV) can confirm that the testing of samples collected from horses competing in The Andrew Ramsden (2800m) and the Straight Six (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday, 25 May 2019 has now been completed,” a statement said.
“Prizemoney earned in both races will be paid to all owners and participants in the coming days.”
Current pre-nomination Melbourne Cup betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au list the Andrew Ramsden Stakes winner Steel Prince at $31.
Despite not having guaranteed a start in the world’s richest handicap race, the Ramsden runner-up Surprise Baby is at a shorter quote of $21 Melbourne Cup odds that are led by last year’s winning raider Cross Counter ($15).
In other Melbourne Cup news this week, Australian Bloodstock have confirmed they will target the two-mile classic with Irish import Rockabill.
Formerly prepared by Melbourne Cup winning trainer Joseph O’Brien, the son of Fastnet Rock will be prepared down under by Sydney horseman Kris Lees when he arrives in Australia this September.
Rockabill, a two-time winner from 12 starts to date over 2000m and 2300m, will target the Group 2 $300,000 Lexus Stakes (2500m) on Derby Day before a possible Melbourne Cup start.
Early 2019 Melbourne Cup nominations close on Thursday August 29.
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