Michael Travers pilots Dual Command to victory. Photo: Graham Tidy
Peter Wiggins's Melbourne Cup celebrations started early when Dual Command saluted in Canberra's event leading into the race that stops the nation.
Dual Command was the Canberra trainer's only runner at Thoroughbred Park on Tuesday and proved too good in the benchmark 57 handicap (1200 metres).
The Nick Olive-trained Corsa Rosa was out in front with 150m to go but compounded badly, allowing Wiggins's $18 long shot to scoot up the rail to win by three-quarters of a length from Aupose, with $2.80-favourite Corsa Rosa hanging on for third a further 1¼ lengths back.
Wiggins was over the moon with the win, which was heightened by it coming on the biggest day on the Australian racing calendar.
It was just Dual Command's second win in his 33 starts. He has placed 10 times as well. The six-year-old gelding took his earnings to more than $30,000 - a good return from the $3000 spent on him. Dual Command's last win was more than a year ago, in a maiden handicap (1460m) at Queanbeyan last September.
But all Wiggins was worried about was yesterday's win, which came just 50 minutes before the Melbourne Cup. It meant he was celebrating long before Green Moon caused an upset of his own to claim the famous race.
''When you come and win on your home track on Melbourne Cup Day, it's gold,'' Wiggins said.
''In saying that, the horse has only won two out of 30, he's run a lot of placings and I might have taken his prizemoney to $30,000 - we only bought him for $3000.
''But he tries his guts out and I'd prefer to have a horse that tries its guts out than a horse that has more ability and doesn't.''
In Canberra's next race, 25 minutes after the Cup, Signoret romped in by six lengths to win the benchmark 70 handicap (1400m).
It was jockey Brendan Ward's second winner of the day, after saluting on Transcending in the benchmark 55 handicap (1300m) first.
Fellow hoop Richard Bensley won a running double on Nick Olive's Count Libretto and then Bella Kuria, trained by Mark Schmetzer.
The cherry on Wiggins's day was when Taylor Lovelock-Wiggins rode Danzabella to victory in the last, a maiden plate (1200m).
Meanwhile, Queanbeyan trainer Neville Layt's Red Excitement ran third to Al Dragon in the benchmark 69 handicap (1900m) at Rosehill. David Polkinghorne