The Joseph O’Brien trained Downdraft secured his spot in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup when he blew his opposition away to win the Group 3 $300,000 Lexus Hotham Stakes (2500m) at Flemington today.
Downdraft was number twenty-four in the order of entry for the Group 1 $8m Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington and was in trouble of loosing that position if another Melbourne Cup hopeful had won the Hotham Stakes and became exempt from the ballot.
Downdraft carries the OTI Racing colours and the syndicate manager Terry Henderson is keen to see the Irish stayer back up on Tuesday in ‘The Race That Stops A Nation’.
“Really delighted,” Henderson said.
“We have been extremely patient with him and it will be a great thrill for the owners and the stable to have another horse in the Cup that has a real show.”
Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien is currently at the Breeders’ Cup meeting in Los Angeles but Henderson said that he will be arriving in Melbourne in time to saddle up Downdraft in the Melbourne Cup.
“He is at the Breeder’s Cup meeting at Los Angeles, so he will be out here on Monday morning,” Henderson said.
Henderson is not sure how Downdraft will back up in three days in the Melbourne Cup but O‘Brien is confident the five year old will handle the back up okay.
“He (O’Brien) said don’t worry about that. He was confident that if he ran well today he would back up,” Henderson said.
Winning jockey Johnny Allen worked Downdraft ($5.50 favourite) into the race coming to the home turn and then let the Melbourne Cup bound stayer take control of the race at the 300m and went on to record a one and a half length win over the Peter and Paul Snowden trained Carif ($9.50).
Azuro ($9.50), also carrying the OTI Racing colours, ran home for third ahead of Sir Charles Road ($9.50).
Downdraft carrier the top weight of 59kg in the Hotham Stakes but will remain on 53.5kg in the Melbourne Cup after not receiving a penalty for today’s win.
Downdraft has firmed in from $34 to be marked at $17 for the Melbourne Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au.