Having booked her place in the Cup last year, Lunar Flare was scratched from the list of Melbourne Cup runners. After that heartbreak, she is back again as the winner of the Andrew Ramsden Stakes at Flemington.
Andrew Ramsden Demolition for Flare
Ever-popular race mare Lunar Flare has booked her Melbourne Cup ticket for the second year in a row.
Graeme Begg’s runner gained ballot exemption last year when taking the Bart Cummings (Group 3), only for the notoriously stern Racing Victoria vets to scratch her on the morning of the race.
Now, she has turned the Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes at Flemington into a procession. The 2800m race was incredibly easy for the seven-year-old, as back-to-back winning rider Michael Dee booted Lunar Flare home by a widening 5½ lengths.
A $5 shot, Lunar Flare was an easy scorer from runner-up White Marlin ($2.50 favourite). The second horse had been clear favourite for the Melbourne Cup and remains on course.
Sue Murphy was chasing a golden ticket for Hasta La War in this race too. The gelding ran creditably in third, though was beaten six lengths back in third at $32.
Light Prep and Patience the Key to Victory
The plan now, according to trainer Begg, is to work backwards from the Cup on November 7. With last year’s lameness now in the rear-view mirror, the team can concentrate on getting Lunar Flare back to Flemington fit, well and in with a major chance. She is now around a $13 chance for the big one.
Graeme Begg has praised his mare’s owners for remaining patient. He’d wanted to give her time between races, ultimately waiting five weeks between the Easter Cup and the Andrew Ramsden. The plan has paid off big-time.
At Sandown, the softer ground meant a hard race for the mare. The time off between races helped, as did patient riding tactics in Saturday’s race.
White Marlin was setting some stiff fractions on the front end, confidently ridden as favourite by Joran Childs. Michael Dee kept his nerve in behind as his mare travelled supremely well throughout.
The way she ultimately passed the market leader, won and went through the line suggests that getting the full 3200 metres in the Melbourne Cup will not be an issue. No doubt, the pace will be frenetic on November 7 too.
Lunar Now Challenging for Favouritism
Saturday’s victory sees Lunar Flare overtake White Marlin in the Melbourne Cup odds. She sits at a general $13 chance, behind Goldman who remains on top at $11 but he is not sure to run.
Soulcombe’s price ranges from $13 to $19, while While Marlin is now an $11 to $21 chance. Cleveland is rated a $26 chance, but there is now word yet from the Aidan O’Brien camp on whether or not he will be sending horses to Melbourne this year.
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