Melbourne Cup dream starts at Flemington

Craig Brennan
Skelm's connections what him to well at Flemington

The disappointment of missing a guaranteed start in the Caulfield Cup has swung the connections of Skelm to look at a richer race instead.

Skelm is one of 15 horses nominated in the Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes (2800m) at Flemington on Saturday, a race that provides the winner a ballot exemption into November's Melbourne Cup.

Trainer Terry Kelly said he and the owners of Skelm had planned winning the Mornington Cup, run in March, which would have provided a ballot-free entry into October's Caulfield Cup.

A $26 chance, Skelm charged home to finish third behind Aktau in the 2400m race.

Kelly did not let that disappointment worry him for too long and began work on getting Skelm ready for the Andrew Ramsden instead.

"When we won at Caulfield in January we were in the winner's bar after the race and the Mornington Cup was mentioned," Kelly said.

"We thought we'd have a go at it, but unfortunately we just missed out.

"We brought the horse home and he was in such good order to put away for a spell, so we thought we'd head to the Andrew Ramsden.

"You never know, it would be an unbelievable story if he got there."

Kelly has been trying for the best part of 50 years to have a runner in either of Victoria's biggest Cup races, but until Skelm has not had a horse good enough.

An ex-Godolphin-owned horse, Kelly purchased Skelm for $12,000 unraced.

Skelm is trained on a private farm at Coghills Creek, about 10 minutes from the Ballarat racecourse.

The property has two straight uphill tracks of 1600m, one turf, one heavy sand, as well as different areas set out on 700 acres to work on and not get bored.

"We've never got to the bottom of him him yet but he gives the indication that he will run a strong two miles," Kelly said.

"He's a unique character and shows you all the signs that he's a happy horse.

"He gets to do something different every day and we can take him to Ballarat occasionally to give him a bit of a bit of a change."

The Andrew Ramsden will not have a capacity line up this year with only 15 nominations that includes Adelaide Cup winner King Of Leogrance, last start Warrnambool Cup winner Too Close The Sun along with recent Adelaide winner Oceanex.