Horse Racing

Runaway penalty keeps Mithen’s Cup dream alive

RACING identity Anthony Mithen says the Melbourne Cup runs the risk of becoming “pretty much irrelevant” to the Australian breeding and racing scene if credentialed local horses get overlooked.

Mithen’s Geelong Cup winner Runaway, has leapt from 49th to 28th in the order of entry after being given a 1.5 kilogram penalty by Racing Victoria handicapper Greg Carpenter.

Prior to the penalty announcement, Mithen, who owns prominent Rosemont Stud, had teed off on RSN at locals copping a rough deal when it came to Cup entry. But he later said “commonsense” had prevailed with his stayer’s penalty.

“You would think with natural attrition he might sneak in now, which I think is appropriate, and I’m really glad that our system sees a horse like this get a start,” Mithen told the Herald Sun.

“I’m passionate about races as most Australians are and anyone who participates in this industry dreams of having a runner, it’s a fairytale story to have an Aussie bred and our own bred to get into the race.

Owner/breeder Anthony Mithen celebrates with Runaway after its Geelong Cup success. Picture: Alan BarberSource:News Corp Australia

“It’s equal with the highest penalty of the era of internationals, you appreciate that and you hope that the horse has put in a performance that is deserving of that and it’s not just a mechanism to get him in there.

“I genuinely think he deserves it, to be a St Leger winner, a (SA) Derby placegetter and a Geelong Cup winner, surely that’s the type of profile of horse that you want to run in our biggest staying test and our best staying race in the southern hemisphere.”

Carpenter said: “Runaway gave an outstanding performance yesterday to lead throughout in the Geelong Cup and was strong at the finish, holding off stablemate Northwest Passage and Finche.

“He was a progressive talent in his three-year-old season winning the VRC St Leger over 2800m and finishing third in the Group 1 South Australian Derby over 2500m.

“It is encouraging to see a VRC St Leger winner return in such good form as a four-year-old and Runaway will be very competitive in the Lexus Melbourne Cup with 52kg if he can secure a place in the final field of 24 runners.”

Runaway dug deep to win the Geelong Cup. Picture: Stephen HarmanSource:News Corp Australia

Since 2000, 12 Geelong Cup winners have gone on to run in the Melbourne Cup with Media Puzzle (2002), Americain (2010) and Dunaden (2011) winning both races in the same year.

Earlier on RSN, Mithen said: “I’m just hoping Greg is looking at it saying, ‘Well, these horses need to get in otherwise it’s not our cup, it’s not our town’s cups, it’s an international cup because these horse with less credentials get weighted better and we don’t get in’.

“I’d just like to think commonsense prevails, if it doesn’t, well, we know where we stand and we’ll fry a smaller fish I suppose.”

The emerging stayer trained by Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott defeated stablemate Northwest Passage by half a length in Wednesday’s Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m).

“We’re trying to get to the Melbourne Cup, the program has meant that we got two throws of the dice to get in there and one was the Geelong Cup, get a penalty and get in,” Mithen said.

“We’ve ticked our box and gone and won the Geelong Cup and beaten internationals that are ranked higher than us and already in the cup.

Anthony Mithen and Gai Waterhouse were all smiles after Runaway’s win in the Geelong Cup. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

“It’d be nice to think with those credentials, an Aussie bred, a local bred who was bred at our farm and we’re very proud of that fact, there’s been so much talk about these internationals and how do we knock them off, well maybe you breed them on our grass.

“If we want to handicap all these international horses above our derby winners and St Leger winners, well, that’s what we’re going to end up with, a race that becomes pretty much irrelevant to the Australian breeding and racing scene.”

Originally published as Runaway penalty keeps Mithen’s Cup dream alive

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