Andreas Wohler has given himself a shot at a second Melbourne Cup triumph after Ashrun secured the final place in the field with a late-charging win in the Hotham Stakes.
Wohler won the Melbourne Cup with the Australian Bloodstock-owned Protectionist in 2014 and Ashrun is set to take his place on Tuesday in the same colours.
The German trainer was at Flemington on Saturday after serving the mandatory quarantine period for international travellers and said he had a few anxious moments during the run.
Kerrin McEvoy settled Ashrun ($5.50) towards the tail of the field and made a sweeping move down the outside to nail Sound ($7.50) in the final bounds.
The judge could not separate Brimham Rocks ($6.50) and Future Score ($12) for third, the pair producing the second dead-heat of the program.
“I was a bit worried on the way around because he didn’t jump well and didn’t have the position we wanted to have and then they slowed it up,” Wohler said.
“As Kerrin said, he went into contention really quick and he just kept on going.”
Wohler will monitor Ashrun’s recovery from his 2500m victory but says the early signs indicate the horse has come through the win well and will back up in the Melbourne Cup in three days.
His victory in the Hotham secures him the final place in the Cup field, which will be officially declared after the final race on Derby day.
“We just have to see how he comes out of this race but at the first moment he looks fine,” Wohler said.
When asked to compare Ashrun to Protectionist, Wohler said his Melbourne Cup winner had more tactical pace.
“It’s hard. Protectionist was a different horse, he was a speedier type, he got himself out of trouble quicker because he had more speed,” Wohler said.
Kerrin McEvoy is aboard favourite Tiger Moth in the 2020 Melbourne Cup but says Ashrun has genuine claims after overcoming difficulties to win.
“He’s a good stayer. Good in the wind. He didn’t have a lot of favours in the run,” McEvoy said.
“You can’t be taking him lightly on Tuesday. He’ll stay the trip and has a bit of class about him.”
Ashrun will be striving to become the first horse since Shocking in 2009 to claim the Hotham Stakes-Melbourne Cup double.
He firmed from $51 into $17 with TAB fixed odds after his Flemington victory.