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Image: Bruno Cannatelli
Newcastle gelding races his way into the Melbourne Cup under Damien Oliver

For a long time Damien Oliver was wondering whether he would get to participate in the Melbourne Cup during his farewell tour and on Saturday he found a spot in the race for a horse who will be a rival on Tuesday.

Oliver, who finally found a Cup ride when booked to partner Alenquer in the Cup just over a week ago, teamed with Kalapour to win the $300,000 Group 3 Archer Stakes (2500m) at Flemington.

The Kris Lees-trained import snapped up the ballot exemption that accompanied victory when he led all the way under Oliver.

It was the 86th Melbourne Cup Carnival win for Oliver, who was thrilled to score an early wait his final Melbourne Cup Carnival.

“It is great to get one under the belt early, it is great for the confidence,” Oliver said.

“This horse has been running really consistently all season and it is great that he can win a nice race today.

“I’m not sure what the plan is with him but he’s had a pretty easy run today if they wanted to go there (Melbourne Cup).

“The horse is in great condition, he’s a really healthy animal and he’s just a gentleman of a horse.”

The Hall of Fame hoop pulled out a front-running masterclass aboard the son of War Command, a $4.80 chance with betting sites, who found strongly in the straight despite a stern challenge from $2.80 favourite Athabascan to score by a neck. Gan Teorainn ($26) was 1-1/2 lengths further back third.

The soft run Oliver gave Kalapour is what gives Lees confidence that Kalapour will be able to handle the three-day back-up.

“I think so, especially with that style of run,” Lees said when asked Kalapour would back-up.

“It wasn’t a tough run, we’ll see how he pulls up, but I’d expect him to back-up.

“He drops to 50 kilos, he’s a horse in form, which is what you want to see, and I think he’ll acquit himself well.”

Kalapour will be looking to become the 11th horse to complete Archer Stakes/Melbourne Cup double and the first since Shocking in 2009.

Zac Lloyd has been booked for the ride in the Cup.

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