Yet another step has been taken on the audacious road to glory that is Black And Bent’s Melbourne Cup road.
After starting as the shortest of short priced favourites in the JJ Houlahan Hurdle at Sandown he let nobody down with a commanding eight length rout of his rivals.
It’s still a far cry from the Melbourne Cup but for a horse that’s single handedly revolutionised the jumps industry it’s another vital win.
His owners acknowledged Black And Bent was a long shot for the Melbourne Cup when they first revealed their plans, even accepting some of the criticism that they might be crazy.
Now though after grabbing his 10th victory over the jumps to go along with his seven flat triumphs, the dream becomes just that little bit more real.
One of the part owners Mike Symons says he knows winning the Cup would be the ultimate of fairytales and he’s just enjoying the ride, however long it lasts.
“It’s a huge thrill, he never lets us down,” he said.
“You never know what can happen, it’s just like a ticket in the lottery.”
As chairman of the Melbourne Racing Club Symons knows the hardest part still lies ahead for Black And Bent, he now has to transfer his dominant jumps form to the flat.
At the same time he has to do it up against Australia’s best group rated gallopers as well as a few from overseas as well.
He says that’s all just part of the thrill and that’s what they need to do on behalf of the entire jumping code.
“It is the desire of the owners to prove there is not much difference between good jumpers and good flat horses,” Symons said.
“We are trying to bridge the gap and not have jumps racing seen as being for all the slow coaches. It’s important.”
Black And Bent was originally purchased for just $35,000 and his most recent victory pushes his earnings to just over $830,000.
“Jumps has been revived to a large degree and he’s been the flagbearer with his dashing front-running style,” Smerdon said.
“He’s built up a following. There has been a lot of interest in him.”
The lure of the Melbourne Cup is easy to see though, even if he were to finish in 10th spot it would pay $125,000, more than the average jumps race has in its total pool.
To get into the 2011 Melbourne Cup field though Black And Bent must win one of three lead up events.
The Metropolitan in Sydney, the Ansett Classic at Mornington and the Bart Cummings Handicap at Flemington carry the automatic entry he is looking for.
Robert Smerdon is the man who’ll be tasked with delivering what would be arguably the greatest Melbourne Cup victory ever and he’s right up for the challenge.
“It’s not the silliest thing in the world,” Smerdon said.
“It’s a game of dreams, so let’s see if it can be done.
“If you think you can run fourth or fifth, why can’t you run second or third, and if you can do that why can’t you win?”