Cascadian Wins Australian Cup

All-Star Mile runner-up Cascadian, so often gallant in defeat at Flemington, arrived in time to collect his third Group 1 victory in Saturday’s $3 million Australian Cup (2000m).

Ben Melham settled Cascadian ($4 favourite) two-thirds down the field in a truly run contest and tracking market rivals Nonconformist ($5.50) and Campionessa ($7.50) into the home straight was badly held up.

Melham forged his way into the clear at the 250m mark and the All-Aged and Doncaster Mile winner quickened sufficiently to overhaul long-time leader Numerian ($11) in the shadows of the post.

All-Star Mile sixth placegetter Pounding ($26) finished third, ahead of last year’s Turnbull Stakes winner Smokin’ Romans ($18), while last year’s VRC Champions Stakes runner-up Hezashocka ($26) was denied clear running multiple times in the straight in a luckless fifth-placed effort.

Godolphin’s Australian head-trainer James Cummings joined brother Edward and legendary grandfather Bart on the Australian Cup honour roll courtesy of Cascadian’s success. Bart Cummings won the race 13 times, while Edward won the event last year with Duais, his first runner in the event.

“I’m privileged as a young Cummings to be here on the big stage and have competitors in races like these,” Cummings said.

“I had a very stern meeting with my brother Edward yesterday and talked to him about how I might be able to go about winning this and at the conclusion of it he said, ‘you go and win it this year and I’ll be back to win it next year’.

“That’s the beauty of having the confidence that we are in these races and we’ve got the teams behind us to be competitive.”

Cascadian finished fifth in last year’s Australian Cup. The Northern Hemisphere eight-year-old was the oldest runner in the race with Saturday’s victory his first at Flemington at the ninth attempt having been placed twice in the VRC Champions Mile – formerly known as the Cantala Stakes.

“I was confident enough; I had the right horses in front of me, and we wanted to duck and weave on him because, watching his tapes, we feel that’s how he races best (because) being wide and exposed, he’s had a lot of goes here at Flemington and he’s never won one,” Melham said.

“James has done a tremendous job to bring him here in that condition and to back up his All-Star Mile run with a sensational win like this is fantastic.”

Non-Australian bred horses have won nine of the past 10 Australian Cups while the victory provided Melham with his 19th G1 winner and second for the season.

Melham’s other top-level victory also came in Godolphin colours aboard Paulele in the Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot last November.

“Jamie (Kah, Melham’s partner) won the Doncaster on him and I got a bit of advice off her how to ride him and she’s probably in hospital watching – she’s not supposed to be – but she can’t get the channel off,” Melham said.

“It was special and more so for the horse as well, he’s been deserving of a Group 1 here at Flemington and what a race to do it in.”

Cummings is undecided what race Cascadian could contest next, with the $5 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 8 against stablemate Anamoe a consideration.


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