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Image: Bruno Cannatelli

Paul Preusker is still ruing the nose defeat of Surprise Baby in The Andrew Ramsden Stakes which cost the stayer a guaranteed start in the Melbourne Cup.

Surprise Baby and eventual winner Steel Prince staged a two-horse war up the Flemington straight on May 25 with the Anthony Freedman-trained gelding prevailing by the barest possible margin.

Steel Prince earned a Cup ballot exemption for winning while Surprise Baby was in a distressed state post-race before quickly recovering and has enjoyed time in the paddock since.

Surprise Baby will soon return to Preusker’s stable to begin his quest for a start in the Melbourne Cup at Flemington in November.

Preusker has not mapped out a plan on how to get to the big race, but said The Bart Cummings, at Flemington in October, was a logical step.

Like The Andrew Ramsden, The Bart Cummings gives the winner ballot-free entry into the Melbourne Cup.

“What a difference a nose makes. That was cruel really but anyway, that’s life,” Preusker said.

“I haven’t mapped out a program yet but the obvious one is The Bart Cummings that I’ll line up in, but I’ll probably listen to my horse and see how he does as to how we get there.

“That’ll be his first target and then hopefully the big one.”

Preusker said he does not want to give Surprise Baby too much more time off, preferring to keep some residual fitness on the gelding.

“He seems really good,” Preusker said.

“He’ll come back into the stable shortly. I don’t want him out for too long as he is a horse that does a bit better when he’s in work.

“He’s a busy horse. We’ll keep pottering around with him and keep him happy.”

Surprise Baby has raced eight times, registering four wins, including the Group Two Adelaide Cup (3200m) at Morphettville at his sixth start.

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