Imported stayer Shahwardi showed he might be a big player in this year's Melbourne Cup with an impressive victory in the Group 2 Herbert Power Handicap at Caulfield on Saturday.
Shahwardi came from well back in the 16-horse field, before holding off a late challenge from Excluded and Exceptionally to register his first triumph for three years on his Australian debut.
The luckless runner in the event was another import in Gatewood, with the five-year-old finishing in the middle of the field after not getting any clear galloping room in the final 600m.
Shahwardi is now guaranteed a start in next week's Caulfield Cup, but is likely to be reserved for the Melbourne Cup on the first Tuesday in November at Flemington.
Jockey Kerrin McEvoy, who piloted Shahwardi superbly at Caulfield, is looking forward to retaining the mount for Alain de Royer Dupre in the 'race that stops a nation' on November 6.
"There was a bit of action early and a bit of pace and he travelled sweetly during the run," McEvoy said after the race.
"It was a good win by the horse and if he stays two mile then he is going to be a chance in the Melbourne Cup."
McEvoy said he had hassled connections for the last month to ensure he had a ride in the spring's big race.
"Darley didn't have a horse in the race so I thought it was an opportunity for me," he said.
"It is trained by Alain and his team and I knew Stephanie from her time with another horse.
"So I got in contact with a friend of mine over there and then contacted Stephanie (stablehand Stephanie Nigge) here and it has all come into place."Chief Handicapper Greg Carpenter will announce Shahwardi's penalty for the Melbourne Cup on Monday.
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