Kelinni in last-gasp dash into Cup

Kelinni in last-gasp dash into Cup

Cup bound: Kelinni earns a start in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup with a game win in the Lexus Stakes at Flemington on Saturday.LEXUS STAKES
Nanjing Night Net

HE’S gone through the doors of the last chance saloon, but that won’t worry the connections of lightweight Kelinni, who has kept the Cup dream alive for Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller by taking out the Lexus Stakes and winning his way into the field for Tuesday’s $6 million spectacular.

The five-year-old, yet another English import bidding for glory in Australia’s greatest race, started at $9.50 and narrowly denied Bart Cummings’ Dare To Dream ($8), with game mare Exceptionally ($10) third. Luca Cumani’s Ibicenco finished fourth in the 2500-metre ”final eliminator” for the big race

The door on Cups glory thus slams on the beaten brigade, most of whom will now back up either in the Queen Elizabeth next Saturday or the Sandown Cup in a fortnight.

Sentimentalists may perhaps mourn the fact that the Cups King’s galloper, partnered by young Kiwi jockey James McDonald, didn’t quite make it.

But the once-a-year punters who latch on to anything prepared by JB Cummings can content themselves that they still have two possibilities on Tuesday – Sanagas and Precedence – while for the lightly raced Dare To Dream, yet another stayer whose origins are English, rich staying targets later in the season and perhaps a Cups tilt next year lie on the horizon.

For Waller and Kelinni’s owners, who include Black Caviar syndicate manager Neil Werrett, the future is now. Or, more precisely, in 48 hours.

Kelinni has made steady improvement since arriving in Australia in the middle of 2011 as one of a tranche of gallopers with stamina that Waller has bought in Britain in recent years.

He showed enough toe to win over 1250 metres at Canterbury last November, and he has come on in leaps and bounds as the distances increased.

He showed plenty of courage on Saturday when Nash Rawiller blended into the race down the straight, hitting the lead inside the last 200 metres to hold off Dare to Dream. The winner was eighth at the 400 metres, the runner-up 11th in a race run at a decent clip thanks to front-running mare Dame Claire, who held on to finish fifth.

Ex-New Zealander Waller has made an enormous mark on Sydney racing in recent years since setting up at Rosehill and is now the premier Sydney trainer. But his record in the Melbourne Cup is poor, his first runner, Warringah, finished last, and his others rarely figuring.

This time it could be different. Kelinni goes into Tuesday’s race without a penalty – handicapper Greg Carpenter opting not to increase his impost of 51 kilograms – and is a fit and in-form galloper who will handle the track, the going and, almost certainly, the rise in distance to 3200 metres.

”It’s a dream come true, it’s just great to be a part of these big days, and the owners have been fortunate to win a few races along the way,” Waller said. ”It’s a dream to have a runner in the race and whatever happens on Tuesday is a bonus.

”He’s been a model of consistency right from his early days and this preparation he has gone to the next level. He has shown today that he is up with the better ones.

”It will be very interesting, they are handicap races and you need to try and get in the most favourable way, and I would say we are the best-suited horse in the race.”

One man who is no stranger to big races is Werrett – Black Caviar’s managing owner – and he is relishing the chance to win Australia’s greatest distance event, having monopolised all its famous short-course races with his wonder mare.

He was asked: ”Was that better than Royal Ascot?”

”No,” he said with a laugh. ”But it might be as good on Tuesday. I think he’s got a bit of a chance now. I backed him at 200-1, so I’m pretty happy.”

But not even having a chance in the Melbourne Cup can come close to matching the thrills Black Caviar has brought Werrett and his friends over the years.

”No, you can’t compare, not really. Black Caviar’s way up there,” he declares as he points high into the air, ”but this is a good second.”

Rawiller can’t make the weight on Tuesday, but he said Kelinni would be a chance.

”He will run the trip on his ear … whether he can do it as fast as any of the others, time will tell,” he said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.