Gatewood, the George Strawbridge-bred four-year-old who won the Wolferton Handicap at Royal Ascot in June, is now a Group winner on his second start in Australia following his hard-fought success in the Geelong Cup on Wednesday.
An unlucky passage on his southern hemisphere debut in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield on October 13 saw Gatewood manage just seventh place behind another European challenger, the Alain de Royer Dupre-trained Shahwardi. The Geelong Cup has long been a significant trial for the Melbourne Cup, with the last two winners, Dunaden and Americain, both triumphing in the mile-and-a-half Group 3 contest before going on to win the ‘race that stops a nation’.
Gatewood, however, has been given only a 1kg penalty for his Geelong win, which was completed in a slow time, beating an unusually small field, meaning he is still only 35th in line for the Melbourne Cup, which has a maximum field limit of 24. The son of Galileo was bought from owner/breeder Strawbridge by OTI Racing, which has another four-year-old son of Galileo, Quest For Peace (racing in Australia as My Quest For Peace), qualified for the Melbourne Cup.
Quest For Peace, who represents one of two live chances for regular Cup raider Luca Cumani along with Mount Athos, ran in Saturday’s Caulfield Cup in which he was beaten a length and a half for fifth.
The sensational winner of that contest was none other than last year’s Melbourne Cup hero Dunaden, who, from a wide draw, sat out the back for most of the race before swooping late and fast down the outside to deny the eight-year-old Alcopop by half a length. The 2010 winner and fellow French-trained Americain ran an eye-catching race to be fourth.
Dunaden produced a memorable start to QIPCO British Champions’ Day for his owner Sheikh Fahad Al-Thani, whose family sponsors Britain’s richest raceday at Ascot. The sheikh is to be so fond of Dunaden that his racing and bloodstock manager was in Deauville this week, primarily to buy Dunaden’s full-brother, who was offered on the first day of Arqana’s October Yearling Sale and was secured by the Pearl Bloodstock team for €130,000.