Imported galloper Glass Harmonium raced his way into the Melbourne Cup with his victory in Saturday’s Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington.
The grey made up for his Cox Plate debacle the week before, when he became fractious in the gates when other horses were backing out of the barriers, and missed the start before finishing 10th to Pinker Pinker.
“It was disappointing what happened in the Cox Plate, he was in the barriers forever, but it’s a nice consolation,” trainer Mike Moroney said.
“Things went wrong Cox Plate day, the barriers were in disrepair and they need a new set of barriers, the jockeys have told them that.
“Our gate was fine, it was just the fact other horses kept backing out when they took the blindfold off him.”
Moroney was not committed to a Cup start until he saw how Glass Harmonium went in the Mackinnon in which he led all the way to post his first Group One win.
Ridden by Damien Oliver, who also rode him in the Cox Plate, the six-year-old Verglas entire, sent out at $7, held out the fast-finishing Mourayan ($17) by three-quarters of a length with Cox Plate placegetter Rekindled Interest ($6.50 eq fav) a length away third.
Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed ($10) ran on well to finish fourth and trainer Leon Macdonald said she would now be spelled with the autumn in mind.
“He’s a really good horse and has a high cruising speed and he did it the hard way,” Moroney said of Glass Harmonium.
“I don’t think you’ll see many lead here today and win but he’s a good, tough horse with a really good turn of foot.”
Moroney and the horse’s owners discussed a Melbourne Cup start after the race and decided to proceed with it despite the trainer’s lingering doubt about him at 3200m.
“I’ve always had a question mark on him over two miles but if we are going to have a go at it, with the $6 million (prizemoney) it’s the right race to have a go at it in, and he’s nicely weighted (with 54kg).”
The run of the race with a view to the Melbourne Cup was put in by the Lloyd Williams-owned Mourayan who will carry 53.5kg on Tuesday.
“It was an excellent run. Ten furlongs (2000m) is too short for him so to get that close to Glass Harmonium was good,” jockey Hugh Bowman said.
“I thought he’d make a couple of lengths on him and he needed to do that, but he made three or four.”
The Bart Cummings-trained Precedence finished ninth.
“They left him at the top of the straight but he was OK on the line. He needs to find a couple of lengths from somewhere at a vital stage,” jockey Steven Arnold said.