The gelded 4-year-old’s stretch acceleration was pivotal in setting up the March 10 success in the main event of ‘Super Saturday.’
Held at Caulfield this year with the temporary closure of Flemington, the Cup is Melbourne’s fall weight-for-age championship. The 2,000 meters all-aged event mirrors the W.S. Cox Plate (Aus-I) held at Moonee Valley in the spring.
In the Cox, Pompeii Ruler finished the closest of thirds as Fields of Omagh signed off in an emotional farewell, the pair split by Cup favorite El Segundo.
After the females, Miss Andretti and Miss Finland, had dominated the first part of the Super Saturday program, the Cup required something special to retain its headline status.
Assisted in part by minor placegetters Marasco and Tawqeet, Pompeii Ruler provided the pizazz. Away with the leaders under Craig Newitt, the 4-1 second elect settled in sixth. Aproaching the midway point in the stretch, Pompeii Ruler exploded away from his rivals in a few strides. The burst left the others without a chance, and all but two without excuses.
Marasco (6-1) rushed home from last of the 13 at the final corner to get within 1 1/4 lengths of the winner at the wire. The Perth 4-year-old had been placed ninth in transit by Greg Childs, but lost his position and was shunted back 600 meters out.
This talented Scenic son has come a long way in short space of time, too short according to Fred Kersley. The veteran Perth conditioner heads the same crew behind dual Australian Cup and Cox Plate winner Northerly a few years back.
Tawqeet (13-1) was also entitled to finish closer than two lengths from the winner in third place. Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum’s dual spring handicap grade I winner became involved in a traffic snarl nearing the last bend, with he and regular pilot Dwayne Dunn held up until inside the stretch.
The Kingmambo horse set out after the leaders only to be passed near the wire by Marasco, the latter with more momentum out wider.
Aqua d'Amore (15-2) finished a mere head from Tawqeet in fourth. The Coolmoore and Danehill standard-bearer fought on gamely after joining the leaders just inside the lane.
It was a huge reversal of fortunes as the long-term barrier rogue had turned off the charm, holding up the start for several minutes by ignominiously sitting down in the starting gates like a petulant child.
El Segundo went off a 9-4 elect despite a flat performance when third behind Aqua d'Amore in the Futurity (Aus-I) seven days earlier. He was snagged back to last from the outside gate but after looming up 300 meters out, faded to seventh.
Pompeii Ruler is by Genuine, the near-black Sunday Silence son to win the Satsuki Sho (Two Thousand Guineas) (Jpn-I). The colt out of Ruffian-L winner, Croupier Lady, was runner up in the Tokyo Yushun (Derby) (Jpn-I).
Genuine commutes between Shadai Farms and Chatswood Stud in Victoria, his first grade I winner worldwide is from his initial southern crop.
His breeder Brian Coyle sent him the Melbourne fall sale as a yearling, the colt failing to reach a $10,000 reserve. His dam, West With Night, died in 2003, but the daughter of Tell horse Pompeii Court also left Coyle with two fillies.
Pompeii Ruler also has three grade II current season successes in seven wins from 12 starts. The $605,000 Cup purse takes the earnings of the Mick Price-trained horse to $1,575,900.
The prospect of greater riches on offer in the $5 million (US) Sheema Classic (UAE-I) at Nad Al Sheba on March 31, attracted the Ruler's crew.
He will again clash with Tawqeet if he gains a start in the 2,400 meters undercard event. But reports in the 24 hours following the Cup suggest the invitation for Pompeii Ruler remains unconfirmed and, in a further development, the gelding is sore.