New Zealand-bred mare High Emocean has made a last ditched attempt to make the field for Tuesday’s Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) when scoring in Wednesday’s A$500,000 Gr.3 Bendigo Cup (2400m).
Trained by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, High Emocean ($2.30 favourite) required plenty of encouragement from jockey Harry Coffey to strike the lead inside the final 100m and then survive the challenge of Port Phillip ($3.20) by a head.
"It was her race to win," Coffey said. "She was up amongst it doing the work carting the field up and she got the job done so it was well deserved for her.
"I think the biggest asset she usually has is that she travels into the race a long way and has a little turn of foot.
"But today riding her that little bit closer in the one-one, and having to make a real race of it from the 500m onwards, that took away the asset she has so she had to win in different circumstances to what she's usually used to, and I thought that's what made it a good effort.
"Usually you like to ride her a little bit cold and have her having the last crack but today she was fighting them off."
A daughter of Waikato Stud stallion Ocean Park, High Emocean passed the first ballot clause for the Melbourne Cup courtesy of her Bendigo Cup win and moves from equal 32nd to 26th, placing her ahead of stablemate Interpretation.
Racing Victoria's Head of Handicapping, David Hegan, would need to give High Emocean a 1kg weight penalty to lift her beyond the 25th-placed Realm Of Flowers, and a 1.5kg penalty to jump last week's Geelong Cup winner Emissary, who sits 24th.
While any Melbourne Cup weight penalty is unlikely for High Emocean, Coffey received his own penalty from RV stewards, the hoop suspended for seven meetings and fined $5000 for excessive whip use.
High Emocean was bred by the Hawkins family’s Llanhennock Trust, who offered her under their Wentwood Grange banner at Karaka 2018. She was bought for $80,000 by John Foote Bloodstock and Darren Weir Racing.
The six-year-old is out of the unraced High Chaparral mare High Joy, whose five winning progeny also include Listed winner Elate and multiple winners Darci Joy, Hoard The Bourbon and Diamondsandbubbles.
High Emocean almost doubled her prizemoney tally with the A$300,000 first prize from Bendigo, taking her overall earnings to A$705,635. She has won seven races from 22 starts. – NZ Racing Desk