The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
The final ‘win and you’re in’ event for horses chasing a start in the coveted 24-horse field for the 163rd edition of the Group 1 $8.41 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) played out at Flemington with the retiring G.O.A.T. Damien Oliver getting the job done on Kalapour.
Oliver celebrated his 86th Melbourne Cup Carnival win and his first Lexus Stakes victory on the Irish-bred War Command gelding after timing his run to perfection leading from barrier to box.
When the gelding jumped well Oliver was happy to take up front running and dictated the race setting a slow pace in the lead.
He was left alone in that position and controlled the Lexus with the other runners in the diminutive but even field having to sprint home late in an attempt to reel in the eventual winner.
“I was wrapped to have a winner for Damien for what will be his last spring carnival,” Lees told Racing.com.
“I’m glad he could get a win for us today.
“I didn’t give him any instructions…when he jumped clean, he was able to dictate in front and I was very confident.
“You knew he was going to be hard to run down.”
Nothing was going strong enough to beat Kalapour however who had plenty in the tank late after relaxing so well in the lead throughout.
On the home straight the in-form galloper, who came off back-to-back Sydney thirds in the Group 1 The Metropolitan and St. Leger, extended his lead with a furlong to go as Athabascan got into clear running to do the chasing.
Kalapour had plenty to spare on the line with the John O’Shea-trained Athabascan, already a confirmed non-acceptor for the Melbourne Cup, second and Gan Teorainn from the Waller stable third.
The Lexus Archer Stakes winner is now exempt from Melbourne Cup ballot.
Kalapour was 27th on the order of entry before his victory which has the Allan Sharrock-trained New Zealand Group 1 winning galloper Ladies Man (24th) now sweating on the attrition rate to also gain a run in the ‘race that stops a nation’.
Ladies Man also contested the Lexus Stakes but finished second last under his big 59kg weight allocated first-up down under.
“We’re hoping he might still get in,” Sharrock said after the race.
“There could be some attrition, so we’re hoping.”
Lees chases his maiden Melbourne Cup success and, if accepted when final declarations close at 4:30pm (AEDT) this afternoon, Kalapour will join his Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup winning stablemate Cleveland in the two-mile classic back at Flemington on the quick back-up.
Shocking (2009) was the last horse to complete the Lexus Stakes – Melbourne Cup double and Lees is confident Kalapour will be there on the first Tuesday of November looking to be the next.
“Especially after that style of run (he should be able to back-up),” he said.
“It wasn’t a tough run. We’ll see how he pulls up but I expect he’ll back-up.”
Current all-in Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have Cleveland, to be ridden by Michael Dee, at $21 while Kalapour is at $51.
Young jockey Zac Lloyd has picked up the ride on Kalapour, who avoided a penalty, after his earlier mount Valiant King was withdrawn.
“(Cleveland is) really good,” Lees added of his other Melbourne Cup hope.
“He had a nice gallop this morning. He’s in good order. Looking forward to the day.”
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2023 Lexus Archer Stakes Results & Finishing Order
|1||2||KALAPOUR (IRE)||Kris Lees||Damien Oliver||1||56kg||$4.80|
|2||3||ATHABASCAN (FR)||John O’Shea||James McDonald||0.3L||3||55.5kg||$2.80F|
|3||6||GAN TEORAINN (IRE)||Chris Waller||Jye McNeil||1.8L||7||54kg||$26|
|4||5||UNITED NATIONS (IRE)||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Jamie Spencer||3.8L||4||54kg||$5|
|5||4||MOSTLY CLOUDY (IRE)||Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young||Tim Clark||4.55L||6||54kg||$5|
|6||1||LADIES MAN (NZ)||Allan Sharrock||Dean Yendall||5.55L||5||59kg||$9|
|7||7||SPEAK (GB)||Michael Moroney||Billy Egan||12.55L||2||54kg||$16|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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