Polanski wins Victoria Derby
Watch highlights from Derby Day's major races including Robbie Laing-trained Polanski's emphatic, three-length victory in the Victoria Derby.PT1M30S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2wt8o 620 349 November 2, 2013
Cox Plate-winning jockey Chad Schofield secured his first Melbourne Cup ride and English trainer Ed Walker will have his first Cup runner after Ruscello's front-running Lexus Stakes win at Flemington on Saturday.
Walker had a change of heart following a persuasive chat with connections after his lightly-raced stayer earned an automatic Melbourne Cup start with a brave win.
''It's no until he tells us yes,'' was Walker's initial response when asked if Ruscello would take his place in Tuesday's $6 million Cup.
Cup-bound: Ruscello showed great fight to win. Photo: Pat Scala
''He's only four [by northern hemisphere time] and he's just won the biggest race of his life and to ask him to run the next biggest race of his life three days later is a bit unfair,'' he said.
Walker and connections from Terry Henderson and Simon O'Donnell's OTI team met soon after the race to debate the pros and cons of Ruscello progressing to the two-mile feature. At about 3.15 pm, some 2½ hours after the race, Henderson declared Ruscello a runner.
Apprentice Schofield, 19, will be hoping for a repeat of his good fortune to gain the late pick-up ride on Shamus Award to win the Cox Plate at his first chance in the weight-for-age championship.
Derby Day Racing at Flemington
Derby Day Flemington , Race 1 won by Paximadia ridden by Kerrin McEvoy Photo: Pat Scala
Racing Victoria handicapper Greg Carpenter declined to rehandicap Ruscello from his Cup weight of 50 kilograms for his win in the group 3 Lexus (2500 metres). ''The time was 1½ seconds slower than any winner for the past five years,'' he said.
Walker, a protege of leading English trainer and spring carnival regular Luca Cumani, is in only his third season as a trainer and is based at the famous Newmarket training centre. He made an immediate impact winning a listed race at Kempton with his first runner, Riggins, in November 2010.
The Lexus was the first group race Ruscello had contested. The gelding's previous wins were a Lingfield maiden, two restricted-class races at Kempton, and Great Yarmouth. Jockey Kerrin McEvoy went against instructions to take Ruscello ($11) to the lead and set a leisurely pace, which ensured he had a solid kick at the end of the race, stalling off Let's Make Adeal ($9.50) to win by a short neck.
''I gave him two instructions. One was to get cover and the other was not to hit the front too early, so lucky he didn't listen to me,'' Walker said. ''He [McEvoy] gave him a good breather around the bend and he just kicked, and the one thing this horse has got is a lot of guts, he tries his heart out.''
McEvoy said Ruscello was a genuine horse and would be competitive in the Cup. ''He's lightly raced, he's going to be 20-1 or 30-1, you might as well have a crack,'' he said.