Adelaide Cup winner Surprise Baby will now be set for a 2019 Spring Carnival campaign with his ultimate goal to be the Group 1 $7.3m Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 5.
Trainer Paul Preusker produced one of the all-time best training performances to get the lightly raced Surprise Baby to win the Group 2 $400,000 Adelaide Cup (3200m) at Morphettville yesterday at only his sixth race start.
Winning jockey Dean Holland claimed his second Adelaide Cup in four years when he drove the heavily backed Surprise Baby to a one and three quarter lengths win over Top Of The Range ($10) with the Chris Waller trained Naval Warfare ($4.60 favourite) in third spot.
Even though Surprise Bay was stepping straight up to the 3200m from a fourth over 2000m at Flemington on February 16, the son of 2009 Melbourne Cup winner Shocking was backed in from $12 on Adelaide Cup morning to start the equal second favourite at $4.80.
Preusker will now give Surprise Baby a short break and set him for the ‘Race That Stops A Nation’ on the first Tuesday in November after passing the first ballot clause for this year’s Melbourne Cup with his win in the Adelaide Cup.
“He has a sharp turn of foot and is very tough, I thought I might try and qualify him for a Cup early,’’ Peusker said.
“He is still very green, very raw, and I think with a little bit of down time now he will come off that again, Preusker told RSN’s Racing Pulse.
“I don’t know if I will let him out of work too long, he is a horse that loves work but there is more we can give him and relax him and give him more education.”
“The Adelaide Cup has ticked a few boxes for him (for the Melbourne Cup) and he might not have to do a hell of a lot more.”
“That style of plenty of racing under their belt before they go into a Melbourne Cup, that has gone now.”
Surprise Baby has a checkered preparation heading towards the Adelaide Cup and missed an important lead up run when a scratching at the barriers before the start of a 2500m BenchMark 78 Handicap at The Valley on March 1.
Preusker was initially frustrated but decided to push ahead with his Adelaide Cup plans for the four year old.
“I threw the toys out of the cot to be honest at Moonee Valley,’’ Preusker said.
“By the time I got home I thought don’t give up yet, there might be something new I can learn.
“Try something new.
“It’s been a big team effort.”
Surprise Baby has been included in the Melbourne Cup market at $51 with Ladbrokes.com.au while the Robert Hickmott trained Schabau heads the betting at $17 ahead of last year’s winner Cross Counter at $21.
Early betting for the 2019 Melbourne Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au: $17 Schabau, $21 Cross Counter, $26 A Prince Of Arran, Avilius, Johannes Vermeer, Marmelo, Torcedor, $31 Finche, Rostropovich, $41 Extra Brut, Furrion, Latrobe, Oceanex, Rekindling, Younstar, $51 or better the rest.