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Incentivise suffered his first defeat in his last ten starts when going down to Verry Elleegant in the Melbourne Cup, but his courage and ability remains unquestioned after he put in as brave a performance as he has ever done in his career.

The hype around the Peter Moody trained runner going into the race was unparalleled in recent years. Phar Lap’s name even made it into the conversation as Incentivise looked like becoming the shortest priced Melbourne Cup favourite since the great horse in 1930.

Tipsters couldn’t see Incentivise being beaten. Bookmakers paid out on his win prior to the race. Opponents adopted a ‘got a ticket, got a chance’ approach, but all had Incentivise as the horse to beat. It was all but one way traffic.

But, that old adage … ‘there is no such thing as a certainty’ … was waiting in the wings and it duly arrived to derail the Incentivise train.

Not that Incentivise did anything wrong. Had he won, the news pages would have raved about his effort and another masterful ride by Brett Prebble and it was no less an effort or quality ride for the second place result … it was just that Incentivise had the misfortune to run into a champion at the top of her game as Verry Elleegant proved unstoppable, producing a stunning level of acceleration rarely seen anywhere at the end of a 3200m trip, never mind in the boiler room of the Melbourne Cup.

Incentivise, who led them up in the straight, was passed by Verry Elleegant with as much as 300m left to run. It was over those concluding stages though, when a win was out of the question, that Incentivise’s top tier attributes as a quality racehorse remained to the fore.

When Verry Elleegant dashed to the lead, Incentivise could oh so easily have cried enough. It was very much a possibility at that stage, when under immense pressure, that Incentivise could fall back and finish fourth as holding on to second place was going to be a tough ask, but Incentivise never stopped fighting.

Just as he had held others off before in compelling fashion when taking out those three successive Group 1 wins in the Makybe Diva, The Turnbull and The Caulfield Cup, Incentivise kept the duelling duo of Spanish Mission and Floating Artist behind him in third and fourth place respectively.

It wasn’t a fight for outright glory this time … but if second place was the best option on the table, Incentivise was going to do everything he could to claim it … and his outright toughness ensured he did so in a performance of the highest order.

Two interesting point from the Steward’s report regarding Incentivise.

Firstly, having held second place on the track, the dust still hadn’t quite settled on the result.

As indicated in the Steward’s report: ‘Prior to the declaration of correct weight co-trainer David Eustace (Floating Artist), 4th placegetter, viewed the stewards’ video before deciding not to lodge an objection. And then, a little bit further along in the report: ‘Approaching the 300 metres (Floating Artist) was taken out off its course and hampered by Incentivise (Brett Prebble), which shifted out under pressure. B Prebble was reprimanded.’

That inward shift is quite noticeable on the head-on video. Incentivise not running in a straight line was a worry at the time … for a number of possible reasons.

While it would be folly to make any excuse for any runner who finished behind the rampant Verry Elleegant, the next entry in the Steward’s report regarding Incentivise notes: ‘The stable has reported that Incentivise had displayed a small amount of swelling in near foreleg upon cooling down and has been examined by the stable vet who will reassess the gelding in the ensuing days. Stewards will follow up with the stable.’

Whether that had anything to do with contributing to Incentivise’s inward movement is unknown.

As stated though, taking all circumstances into account, Incentivise obtained the best possible result he could in the circumstances.

He will go for a very well-deserved rest now … and, while he is away, there can be no doubt that his connections will already be busy plotting and planning their way back to another tilt at the Cup next year where the Incentivise will be looking to go one better!

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