Sunday at the Sunshine Coast sees the postponed...
The latest piece in the Melbourne Cup 2019 field puzzle fit into place following the 2019 Lexus Hotham Stakes results with the Joseph O’Brien-trained raider Downdraft blowing away his rivals on Derby Day at Flemington.
Offering a ballot free ride into next Tuesday’s iconic Group 1 $8 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m), Camelot stallion Downdraft was far too dominant for his rivals in this year’s Group 3 $300,000 Lexus Hotham Stakes (2500m).
The five-year-old was right on the cusp of a Melbourne Cup run sitting 24th on the order of entry before his powerhouse victory over Carif (2nd) and Azuro (3rd) second-up down under.
O’Brien won the ‘Loving Trophy’ two years ago with Rekindling and has a likely four-horse contingent heading towards the 2019 Melbourne Cup field.
The Irish horseman has the option to accept with Master Of Reality, Latrobe, Twilight Payment and Downdraft who are all safely inside the top 24 in the Melbourne Cup ballot.
During his three-year-old season in Europe Downdraft raced in plenty of top-level races but didn’t really come into his own until recent times.
With all the makings of a star stayer, he only broke his maiden status in July and debuted down under on Cox Plate Day when third in last Saturday’s Group 2 Moonee Valley Cup (2500m).
On the seven-day turnaround he was in winning form with John Allen in the saddle again on 59kg in the Lexus Hotham Stakes.
Allen had Downdraft settled-up on the pace in the Lexus Hotham Stakes with Haky pushing forward midrace to control the tempo up front.
Downdraft meanwhile was tracking fourth the inside before getting up on the inside 400m out from the line to sprint away, bolt home and secure his Melbourne Cup run.
It was a good strong win with the international travelling well into the race and relishing the Soft (7) track.
“We’ve outrun them today,” Allen said post-win.
“He’ll be in with a right chance hopefully.
“He seems to have a great attitude.”
Downdraft will be on another quick back-up racing for the third time in nine days in the two-mile classic where he will enjoy a notable drop back in weight.
“I believe Joseph was pretty confident he could handle it [the back-up],” Allen added.
“He never looked like getting beaten today.
“The run last Saturday was more like a piece of work to him.”
Currently Downdraft is allocated 53.5kg in the Melbourne Cup weights and will remain on that weight becoming the ninth Lexus Stakes winner from the 13 since the clause was introduced in 2007 to escape a weight penalty.
Shocking (2009) was the last horse to complete the Lexus Stakes – Melbourne Cup double, while last year’s Lexus Hotham Stakes winner Prince Of Arran ran a nice third in the ‘race that stops a nation’.
OTI Racing’s Terry Henderson was also confident the team had a livewire Melbourne Cup hope with Downdraft displaying the kind of tenacity needed for the quick turnaround and step-up in distance.
“Really delighted,” he said.
“It’s just a great thrill for all the owners and the stable.
“He’s not a particularly strong looking horse, but inside he’s got great determination.
“[O’Brien] was confident that if he ran well today he could back-up.”
Downdraft has firmed in from $34 to $17 in the latest all-in Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au ahead of final acceptances closing this afternoon.
2019 Lexus Hotham Stakes Results & Finishing Order
|1||1||DOWNDRAFT (IRE)||Joseph O’Brien||John Allen||–||1||59kg||$5.50F|
|2||13||CARIF||Peter & Paul Snowden||Jamie Kah||1.5L||4||54kg (cd 54.5kg)||$9.50|
|3||10||AZURO (FR)||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Dean Yendall||5.5L||5||54.5kg||$9.50|
|4||7||SIR CHARLES ROAD||Lance O’Sullivan & Andrew Scott||Dwayne Dunn||6.75L||8||57.5kg||$9.50|
|5||8||THE CHOSEN ONE (NZ)||Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman||Mark Zahra||7.75L||3||57.5kg||$6|
|6||4||HUSH WRITER (JPN)||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Tim Clark||9.75L||10||57.5kg||$7|
|7||11||WALL OF FIRE (IRE)||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Jye McNeil||10.5L||2||54kg||$14|
|8||3||HAKY (IRE)||John Hammond||Ms Linda Meech||10.7L||9||57.5kg||$8|
|9||12||VALAC (IRE)||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Craig Williams||22.7L||7||54kg||$26|
|10||6||PATRICK ERIN (NZ)||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||28.7L||6||57.5kg||$9.50|
|–||9||YOUNGSTAR||Chris Waller||Damien Oliver||–||0||–||–|
|–||2||SOUND (GER)||Michael Moroney||James Winks||–||0||–||–|
|–||5||NEUFBOSC (FR)||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Luke Nolen||–||0||–||–|
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