King of Leogrance winning at Flemington earlier this year (Credit: Racing Photos)
A quality field of stayers will vie for direct entry into the 2020 Lexus Melbourne Cup via The Andrew Ramsden (2800m) at Flemington this Saturday.
Adelaide Cup winner King of Leogrance headlines the field for Flemington trainer Danny O’Brien and is a firm favourite with the TAB. Challengers to King of Leogrance include Warrnambool Cup winner Too Close to the Sun and Group-winning mares Oceanex and Sopressa who provided the quinella in the recent Port Adelaide Cup.
Trainer Paul Preusker will try and go one better after being narrowly defeated in The Andrew Ramsden last year with Surprise Baby. Preusker is represented by Dark Alley, a son of 2011 Melbourne Cup placegetter Lucas Cranach.
Steel Prince and Surprise Baby produced a thrilling finish to quinella The Andrew Ramsden in 2019 and both performed commendably in the Lexus Melbourne Cup, finishing ninth and fifth respectively.
Victoria Racing Club (VRC) Chief Executive Officer Neil Wilson said he was looking forward to another running of the revamped The Andrew Ramsden which begins the road to the Lexus Melbourne Cup for one lucky runner.
“The excitement that erupted from connections of Steel Price in the Flemington Mounting Yard last year emphasised how much it means to secure a place in the Lexus Melbourne Cup,” Mr Wilson said.
“While we sadly won’t feel that at the track at Flemington this year, we know there will be a huge celebration from the winning owners wherever they are.
“We are pleased to see another field of progressive Australian-trained stayers lining up for The Andrew Ramsden, particularly King of Leogrance who might be the horse to give Danny O’Brien consecutive wins in Australia’s greatest race.”
The winner of The Andrew Ramsden this Saturday is guaranteed entry in the 2020 Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) after the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) added The Andrew Ramsden as a fifth ballot exempt race for the world’s richest handicap last year.
There are four other ballot exempt races for the Lexus Melbourne Cup; The Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington, the Caulfield Cup (2400m), the Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley and the Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington.
The Andrew Ramsden is the highlight of a nine-race card at Flemington this Saturday, which also sees the return of promising stayer Schabau in the Lexus Trophy, leg one of the Banjo Patterson Series.
Flemington’s popular winter race series will begin on Saturday with six of nine opening heats. The winter race series allows horses and connections the chance to compete for generous winter racing prizemoney at Flemington and now includes the Next Generation Sprinters Series for two-year-olds.
The remaining three opening heats will be run on Living Legends Race Day next Saturday at Flemington with the winter series culminating in championship races on Flemington Finals Day on July 4, 2020.
While racing at Flemington will continue to be run behind closed doors until further notice, Andrew Ramsden Race Day will be shown live and free on Channel 7 and Racing.com.
The program begins with the Vale Darby McCarthy OAM at 11:45am. The VRC has named the opening race in honour of champion Indigenous jockey Darby McCarthy who competed in three Melbourne Cups and inspired Indigenous sportspeople across the country.
A digital race book will be available on the VRC website and VRC Members, owners and all racing fans are encouraged to follow the race day via the VRC social media platforms and hastags #Flemington #RoadToTheCup #ReadyToRamsden, and share their at home experiences using our official hashtag #Flemington on social media.