New Zealand stayer The Chosen One has earned a ticket into the Caulfield Cup with a hard-fought victory in the Herbert Power Stakes.
As the winner of Saturday’s 2400m handicap, The Chosen One gains a ballot exemption into next week’s $5 million Caulfield Cup over the same distance.
Backed from $9 to $6.50, The Chosen One scored a half-length win under Damian Lane from last year’s Melbourne Cup placegetter Prince Of Arran ($8.50) with Sully ($9.50) three lengths away third.
The Chosen One had his price slashed for next week’s Cup from $101 to $11 and can’t be penalised for the win.
Murray Baker, who trains in partnership with Andrew Forsman, is chasing a second Caulfield Cup having won the race in 2015 with Mongolian Khan.
“Mongolian Khan did everything right, he was an experienced horse,” Baker said.
“He’d won two Derbies, he was pretty strong. This guy is hopefully on the way up.”
Baker said it was important to see The Chosen One back in form after producing a disappointing performance in the weight-for-age Underwood Stakes at Caulfield on September 29.
He said dropping back to handicap conditions suited the four-year-old.
“The speed was on and he saw the trip out which was the main thing and we go on to the Caulfield Cup now, I think.”
Lane switches to Japanese stayer Mer De Glance but said The Chosen One, with his light weight of 52kg, was a contender in next week’s race.
Favourite Steel Prince was scratched at the barriers after striking out with a hind leg, taking off some skin.
Trainer Anthony Freedman said Steel Prince was initially sore but trotted back to the mounting yard fine.
He said the next 48 hours were crucial for the stayer who was using the Herbert Power as his final lead-up run for the 2019 Melbourne Cup on November 5.
“We’ll see how he comes through this and then sit down and work out a plan,” Freedman said.
Charlie Fellowes, trainer of Prince Of Arran, is undecided on his next move with the horse still outside the Melbourne Cup field despite last year’s third.
“Agonising!!!!!! Prince Of Arran gets caught close home in the Group 2 Herbert Power finishing 2nd, 3 lengths clear of the field. Great run first up in Australia but now where do we go?!? Sit tight for the MC and use the Lexus Stakes as a back up option again? Great to be back!!!!” Fellowes tweeted.