English galloper Gatewood has raced his way into Melbourne Cup calculations with a hard-fought victory in the Group Three Geelong Cup (2400m) on Wednesday.
The past two Melbourne Cup winners have come through victories in the Geelong Cup and Gatewood ($3.20) will be looking to emulate French pair Americain and Dunaden in 13 days' time after battling past Chateaux Margaux ($11) and Brigantin ($3.50) for his first victory in Australia.
Luckless in his last start in the Herbert Power Handicap, Gatewood decided to make his own luck this time with Glen Boss giving him a soft run outside bolter Back in Black in what was a farcically slow pace in a seven-horse field.
Craig Newitt on Back in Black was allowed to roll along at his leisure, resulting in an overall time some 10 seconds outside Media Puzzle's track record.
However, the last 600 metres was run at a cracking pace of just a tick over 32 seconds as Gatewood surged to the front and held off Chateaux Margaux, who sat on his back throughout, by three quarters of a length while Brigantin ($3.50) struggled to get clear running and had to be content with third.
Italian jockey Umberto Rispoli fired in a protest against Luke Nolen on Chateaux Margaux but it was dismissed.
The 2010 Melbourne Cup runner-up Maluckyday cost himself at the start, missing the kick and he could not make up enough ground off what was a very slick last three furlongs. Local mare Exceptionally found the late pace too quick as well.
The win should be enough for Gatewood - who was initially weighted at just 51.5kg - to secure a penalty of more than 1kg, all but ensuring the John Gosden-trained five-year-old a start in the Melbourne Cup. He is now a $12 shot for that race.
Boss was clearly impressed with Gatewood's fast final 600m and is strongly considering riding him in the Cup after such a good win.
"The last 600m I felt like I broke 33 (seconds), it was very, very quick and quick through the line," Boss said.
"He's very good on his feet, he's very nimble and that's going to take him a long way, because you need that type of horse in our race.
"We'll let the dust settle, I'll speak to John (Gosden) tonight. He's qualified now and has beaten very good horses there."