Chris Waller took a leaf out of the Bart Cummings training manual to win Saturday’s Hill Stakes with Preferment just hours after he contemplated scratching the horse due to a wet track.
“I had a think about it and thought `Bart Cummings, what would he do?'” Waller said.
“He needs to get mileage into his legs to be ready for these big races so he’s got to run in them and fortunately we have.”
Preferment ($21) had never won on a wet track but his stamina prevailed in a head-bobbing finish to the 2000m Group Two race.
Godolphin’s Magic Hurricane got his nose in front before Preferment kicked back under stern riding from Hugh Bowman to win by a long head.
The runner-up’s stablemate Complacent held third after making the running, just in front of a wall of horses including two of Waller’s other Melbourne Cup chances Who Shot Thebarman (fifth) and Grand Marshal (seventh).
“Smart ride by Hugh Bowman. He got going at the right time and had a good, tough horse over the last 100 metres,” Waller said.
Options for the winner include the Craven Plate in Sydney on October 3 or the Turnbull Stakes in Melbourne a day later.
The horse is entered for the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate with Waller leaning towards the 2400m race as a Melbourne Cup lead-up.
“I’d say we’d go the Caulfield Cup route rather than the Cox Plate route but we’ve got a good horse we can think big with,” he said.
“We will be realistic and run him in whatever he can be competitive in and hopefully he will be there on the first Tuesday in November.”
James McDonald blamed himself for Magic Hurricane’s defeat.
“Back to the gym for me I think, I’ve got to learn to lift them,” McDonald said.
“Hughie [Bowman] is just too strong. My horse travelled a little bit keen, but put half a length on the winner, but just couldn’t peg him back at the end.”