GAI WATERHOUSE once again had to settle for second prize in yesterday's Melbourne Cup, but it was a more joyful occasion than many this spring.
Her "parachute horse" Fiorente charged home to finish a length from Green Moon but there was much more to come from the classy import.
"We ran second to the horse that [Waterhouse's husband and bookmaker] Rob had marked 5-1 favourite, which is no disgrace," Waterhouse said. "I knew I had a really good horse; the form around him was so strong. I just knew he was a quality individual and I just wish we had him for more than two weeks. I think if we had been able to get a run into him it might have been a different story."
It has been a frustrating spring for Waterhouse, who has prepared Pierro to run second in the Caulfield Guineas and third in the Cox Plate. She had More Joyous and Glencadam Gold beaten as favourites in, respectively, the Toorak Handicap and Caulfield Cup.
Waterhouse admitted she never thought she was going to win the Melbourne Cup but her other entry, Glencadam Gold, gave a mighty sight in front until the 300 metres, when he was collared.
"I think that was one of Tommy's [Berry] best rides, he just got him travelling and at the top of the straight I thought he couldn't, could he," Waterhouse said. "Fiorente is a vastly superior horse to Glencadam Gold on ratings but Glencadam [Gold] just tries too hard. I think he showed with that run why he was Caulfield Cup favourite and he is going give us a lot more fun next year."
Waterhouse will decide whether to push on to Sandown with Fiorente or spell him. "We will see how he is,'' she said. "I can't wait to get him back in the autumn and give a full preparation because he is a very good horse. We might be back here next year.''
Meanwhile, the reputation of the Lexus Stakes as a top form reference for the Melbourne Cup was boosted again yesterday when Saturday's winner, Kelinni, ran a slashing race to finish fourth, three lengths behind winner Green Moon.
The Glen Boss-ridden five-year-old gelding from the Sydney stable of Chris Waller backed up in terrific fashion. Always prominent, he ran in the first three throughout only to be deprived of a trifecta spot by Jakkalberry's late run.
It is by far the best performance a Waller-trained horse has put up in the great race and, with another year under his belt the son of Refuse to Bend, who was having his 19th start, could be a lively contender although he will surely be asked to carry a greater burden than the 51 kilograms he shouldered yesterday.
Boss, who knows plenty about winning this race, said the superior class of the winner was too much but Kelinni lacked nothing in gameness.
''He gave me a great ride. He lacked class when Green Moon put the gap on him but he toughed it out right to the line.''
with MICHAEL LYNCH