A 1.5-kilogram penalty edges Runaway towards Melbourne Cup start
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A 1.5-kilogram penalty edges Runaway towards Melbourne Cup start

Runaway has earned a 1.5 kilogram Melbourne Cup penalty for his win in the Geelong Cup, lifting his weight to 52 kilograms and pushing him to 28th in the order of entry.

Geelong Cup winner Runaway has been penalised 1.5 kilograms for the Melbourne Cup.

Geelong Cup winner Runaway has been penalised 1.5 kilograms for the Melbourne Cup.Credit:AAP

The penalty is the same one given to Media Puzzle in 2002 before he completed the Geelong Cup-Melbourne Cup double, and 2014 Geelong Cup winner Caravan Rolls On, which failed to start in the Cup that year.

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Gai Waterhouse welcomed the penalty but Runaway still may have to run in the Lexus Stakes on Derby day to get into the Melbourne Cup field.

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"You have to be a very, very good Australian horse to get into the Melbourne Cup these days and we are not there yet," Waterhouse said.

"That was a very strong win in the Geelong Cup but we are about two places out of the field, so we will monitor it over the next week and run in the Lexus if we have too.

"It would good to be an Australian horse in this Cup because there are not too many of us around. We are an in-form stayer and I think we would be a winning chance.

"It is a real achievement to get a horse in the Cup these days and you have to win the right races at the right time."

In allocating the penalty, VRC handicapper Greg Carpenter said the four-year-old's recent good form showed he had progressed from the promise he showed as a staying three-year-old.

Runaway won the VRC St Leger as a three-year-old in April over 2800 metres and returned this preparation with a first-up placing at Caulfield, a fourth in the Cranbourne Cup before leading all the way to win the Geelong Cup.

The Waterhouse-Adrian Bott trained horse has been set for the Melbourne Cup although until the Geelong Cup win he looked unlikely to gain a start.

Five Geelong Cup winners have either won or finished second in the Melbourne Cup since Media Puzzle completed the double in 2002 and Runaway will be looking to become the first horse since Gurner's Lane in 1982 to win the VRC St Leger as a three-year-old and return as a four-year-old to win the Cup.

Carpenter described Runaway as "a progressive talent" and his move up the order of entry opens the possibility of another locally bred stayer making the field.

Waterhouse said Tulloch Lodge would also be attempting to qualify Geelong Cup runner-up Northwest Passage for the Cup through the Lexus. She has not ruled Victoria Derby favourite Thinkin' Big backing up into the Melbourne Cup if he takes the carnival's blue ribbon.

Peter Ryan joined The Age in 2017 having covered AFL as a senior reporter with AFL Media.

Racing writer for The Sydney Morning Herald