There is no-one prouder than Leigh Jordon having watched the titanic battle for honours in the new-look The Andrew Ramsden.
A nose separated Steel Prince and Surprise Baby at the end of Saturday’s race with the winner gaining a ballot exemption into November’s Melbourne Cup.
The Victoria Racing Club altered the conditions of Saturday’s race, restricting it to three, four and five-year-olds while at the same time shortening the distance from 3200m to 2800m.
The gamble paid off with Jordon, the VRC’s executive general manager of racing, overjoyed at the success of the new-look race.
“The atmosphere when all the people came into the mounting yard before the race and then watching the race in the mounting yard, it was similar to the Melbourne Cup,” Jordon said.
“In the straight you could see both camps cheering for their horses and it’s like these guys (owners of Steel Prince) have won the 2019 Melbourne Cup.
“I think the result and the way the race unfolded, it was worth putting on.
Jordon hopes to build on the initial success with a potential prize money hike and a lift in its Group status.
“The idea is to get the $400,000 up to $700,000, or even higher, and then get it up in status,” Jordon said.
“That’s the aim, but I think this is a good starting point.”
Jordon said had the result been a dead-heat, instead of a nose separating Steel Prince and Surprise Baby, both stayers would have won a golden ticket into the Melbourne Cup.
“Either horse would have been a perfect result,” Jordon said.
“The winner has European form and is lightly raced and has continued to improve while the second horse, he’s only lightly raced, and stays well.”