Surprise Baby

Surprise Baby winning the 2019 Bart Cummings with Jordan Childs aboard (Image: Racing Photos)

Preusker explains Baby jockey change

Informing Jordan Childs he would be replaced aboard Surprise Baby was one of the hardest things Paul Preusker had to do in his training career.

It was made only tougher by the way the popular jockey reacted to it.

Moments after hearing he might have just lost his best shot at winning a Lexus Melbourne Cup, the 24-year-old still offered to do his bit for the team.

"Even after we told him he said, 'I'll still come down and work him for you'," Preusker said.

"How good is the kid? It's a hard call and no one's taken it lightly.

"He hasn't been sacked for ability at all, it's just a decision we've made and a tough one at that."

Childs will not be on when Surprise Baby resumes in the Feehan Stakes - a race Childs rode Surprise Baby into fourth place in last year - with Craig Williams to be in the saddle.

Officially, Williams has only been booked for that 1600-metre Group 2 at The Valley on September 5, but the change was clearly made with a bigger picture in mind.

Williams' ability to naturally ride at the weight Surprise Baby is likely to be allocated in this year's Lexus Melbourne Cup was the central factor in the decision, led by owner John Fiteni.

"John is mindful of Jordan and has got full faith in him, but the weight is a key element," Preusker said.

"I bet you he wishes he was a couple of kilos lighter and we do too.

"These opportunities don't come along every year and sometimes you've got to make tough choices. That's all it was."

Childs stripped a couple of kilos to ride Surprise Baby at 53.5kg in last year's Lexus Melbourne Cup, with the gelding expected to receive a similar weight this year.

Williams was aboard winner Vow And Declare, who had 52kg.

Williams has not publicly declared Surprise Baby his Lexus Melbourne Cup ride, but Preusker said even if his six-year-old gelding was only a possible Cup ride for Williams, he needed to get a feel for him.

The only time he has been booked to ride Surprise Baby was the night he was scratched at the barriers at The Valley, prior to his win in last year's Adelaide Cup.

"We're well aware that last time we put him on we were scratched and the horse is a quirky horse, so we're going to go from the Feehan and hopefully everything goes all right and it's all ahead of us," Preusker said.

"Craig is an honest horseman, too. You either get along with the horse or you don't and, for us, it's time to give him a feel and get everything in concrete after that."

Preusker has no issues using Childs and there are clearly no grudges the other way around, as evidenced by the fact they are teaming up in Saturday's G3 Vain Stakes at Caulfield with Lunar Fox.

"Jordy's an A-grade horseman, we're still using him and have got full faith in him," he said.

"He's riding for us in the Vain on the weekend and I've full faith that he can hold his head up and be the absolute professional who can take a hit like that and get back up."

Surprise Baby is an $11 second favourite market behind O'Brien's SA Derby winner Russian Camelot ($9), while Vow And Declare is a $26 chance.