Lion Tamer has answered the first question about his chances for the 2011 Melbourne Cup but there are still a few more to come before the first Tuesday in November.
So often horses that have outstanding three year old seasons as he did struggle to come back the following year.
Lion Tamer was in danger of following the same fate after his Victoria Derby success but with a win in the Underwood Stakes on the weekend those doubts have been well and truly turfed.
He still has plenty to do though if he hopes to become only the third horse in history to win a Victoria Derby / Melbourne Cup double.
It would be an impressive group to be a part of, the two before him were Phar Lap and Efficient.
Trainer Murray Baker says he knows the task they face in coming to Australia again in 2011 and the Underwood Stakes was a vital starting point.
“He needed to show something today if he is going to be a candidate in the weight-for-age races,” he said.
“He missed all the autumn, and the VRC Derby winners always have this thing about them. You wonder if they are going to come back.
“We would like to run him in the Melbourne Cup. The owner, Mr Bayly, is 88, and he ran second with My Blue Denim (1980) and he’s keen to get it.”
For Baker it was his second Underwood title after winning 21 years ago with The Phantom, for jockey Michael Rodd it was his 24th Group 1 success making amends for his Thousand Guineas Prelude loss on protest.
“Greeness cost us the Thousand Guineas Prelude and experience probably won it for Lion Tamer,” Rodd said.
“He went really well, he showed his class and he showed he doesn’t need it wet to win and the further you go the better he’s going to get.”
Lion Tamer hit the line strongly after travelling well throughout the race, picking up the lead from a tiring Southern Speed which was forced to do so much work early on.
“I hit the front way too soon, but she held them until the final 80m. It was a very good run and she feels as though she will stay,” jockey Danny Nikolic said.
Impressive European import Midas Touch again crossed the line third after finishing in the same spot at his last start.
Things weren’t so good for former Melbourne Cup favourite Lights Of Heaven though, dropping out to ninth and never looking like a threat.
It was the same story for fellow top contender Shamrocker which sat at the back throughout to cross in 13th.
“She hung out of control and never ever competed in the race. It was pretty disappointing,” jockey Glen Boss said.