Exemplar (grey horse) wins the Flemington Cup from Sin To Win (Image: Racing Photos/Pat Scala)
It was just the second running of the Flemington Cup and, as the two races were run 171 years apart, it was fittingly a thrilling finish as Exemplar held on to score narrowly from a desperately unlucky Sin To Win.
The surprise win from the European import who has been mixing flat and jumps racing, came after a great ride from John Allen with co-trainer Dave Eustace praising the entire Ciaron Maher team for producing the horse in great order for the 2800-metre test.
"Full credit to the whole team," Eustace said. "Dec, who runs Ballarat, has done a fantastic job with this horse. He wasn’t the soundest when we got him. He’s been down at the beach for the last week and it’s been an all-round really good team effort."
Exemplar, shot clear inside the 200 metre mark as runner-up Sin To Win was trying to force a passage and held on to score by a short half head. South Pacific, who had a bumping duel with Sin To Win late in the race, finished third.
The first Flemington Cup, won by Belzoni, was run in 1849 a kilometre or so from the current site of Flemington. The race was reintroduced by the Victoria Racing Club to celebrate its past and to further its cause in promoting staying racing.
Eustace said Exemplar would continue mixing jumping and flat racing.
"He’s obviously versatile," he said. "He was going to have a hurdling campaign and we think he would make a smart hurdler but he’s switched back to the flat and he clearly measures up at this time of year when there isn’t an awful lot of depth in these races.
"He’s fit, he’s well and he’s sound."