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Surprise Baby chases Melbourne Cup ballot exemption

Steve Bennett in News 20 May 2019
  • Adelaide Cup winner chases Melbourne Cup start
Surprise Baby

Jockey Dean Holland can see an opportunity for a Melbourne Cup ride with victory in Saturday’s Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes (2800m) at Flemington.

The Paul Preusker-trained Surprise Baby will be out to earn an exemption from this year’s Melbourne Cup ballot if he can take out the Andrew Ramsden Stakes on Saturday.

The Victoria Racing Club turned the Listed race into a ballot exemption for the Melbourne Cup in order to give local stayers another opportunity to gain a start in the race that stops the nation.

After just five career starts, the son of 2009 Melbourne Cup winner Shocking (out of a Kaapstad mare) lined up in this year’s Adelaide Cup (3200m) having never raced beyond 2000m before.

It was all in the breeding as the four-year-old thrived over the extra trip and went on to win the Group Two event comfortably in the end.


Holland and Preusker - winning combination

Preusker then brought the gelding back to Victoria and after a seven-week let-up, was narrowly beaten in last weekend’s lead-up race to this Saturday’s $400,000 contest.

Hampered by a fallen horse (Belgravia) in the run home, Holland had to steady Surprise Baby to avoid falling himself, then carrying top weight of 60kgs, he finished hard and fast to finish third, beaten less than a length by Steel Prince in the 2600m event.


Holland was still full of praise over Surprise Baby’s speed at the end of the race.
“We should have won the race last time and the winner had 6kg less so it just goes to show what a big run it was,” Holland said.
“He probably should have won but I’m just glad he came out of it unscathed from that day. 
“Not many horses can pick up at the end of a staying race and pick up like he did. 
“That’s his best asset. He’ll stay 3200m but he’ll quicken up at the 800 like a 1200m horse. 
 “You don’t get stayers like that and that’s why I think he’s something special.”

Holland has ridden the horse at his past two starts and he knows a Melbourne Cup ride is there for the taking with victory on Saturday.

“I’m able to ride the best horse in the race and I’m going there with plenty of confidence.
“The stable is confident, I’m confident and the horse is in good order. I'm expecting him to be hard to beat.”

It is Preusker’s dream that Surprise Baby can end a 27-year drought and become the first horse to win the Adelaide Cup – Melbourne Cup double since Subzero in 1992.

Currently a $31 chance with Sportsbet in early Melbourne Cup markets, that could change dramatically with a win on Saturday.


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Surprise Baby chases Melbourne Cup ballot exemption

Jockey Dean Holland can see an opportunity for a Melbourne Cup ride with victory in Saturday’s Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes (2800m) at Flemington.

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