They came from Europe, New Zealand, and Australia to contest what was universally described as one of the best BMW Caulfield Cups in years at Caulfield Oct. 18.
Traditionally, this $2.5 million, 12-furlong, group I handicap has served as the best Melbourne Cup lead-up race, and it looks very much like that may be the same again this year.
Godolphin had one international runner, All The Good, whose most recent run was a solid win at Newbury in handicap conditions, while England’s Luca Cumani had one runner, Mad Rush, whose most recent outing was a second at the group II level in France. And if luck had been kind, this pair would have fought it out.
As it was, Kerrin McEvoy, reuniting with Godolphin for the first time in four months, pulled off the biggest upset the race has seen in decades when he brought the 50-1 outsider All The Good (Diesis--Zarara) down the center of the track to win drawing clear from the hard finishing New Zealand visitor Nom du Jeu (Montjeu--Prized Gem) and the locally trained pacemaker Barbaricus (Lion Hunter--Light Of Erin), with Mad Rush (Lemon Drop Kid --Revonda) rattling home from last of the 17 runners on the home turn to get fourth, beaten two lengths only by the winner.
He probably has run himself into Melbourne Cup favoritism with his effort which screamed "Bet on me in the big Cup."
He was very unlucky, being held up behind a wall of horses as they straightened then weaving a checkered passage between runners to just miss grabbing third spot.
But as impressive as he was in fourth, All The Good was just as brilliant in winning.
"You have no idea what this means to me to be in the blue colors of Sheikh Mohammed again winning,” said McEvoy, who moved back to Australia four months ago. “He ran superbly and really settled nicely for an English horse. It was hotter than he usually races in yet he adapted wonderfully and the run was outstanding as we were a little wide early. I am just so grateful to be back on a Godolphin horse and working with the team.”
The sad sight for the 51,000 crowd on track and the three million watching on television all over the country, was the run of Australian Horse of the Year and reigning superstar sprinter Weekend Hussler. He was beautifully ridden by Brad Rawiller in fourth spot throughout, then hit the front as they straightened up before weakening to finish midfield.
It was a brave effort, as he carried the hopes of a nation, and more weight in the handicap race than any other runner, 126 pounds. All The Good in contrast lumped 120 pounds.
Weekend Hussler, winner of seven group I events is a champion sprinter, perhaps the best ever seen in Australia. Last campaign, he was asked to stretch his speed to a mile and won group I stakes then, too.
Stepping up with that weight to 12 furlongs was beyond him this time up though, but he tried his heart out.
“I couldn’t have asked for more,” said his trainer, Ross McDonald. “He told us today that as good as he is, he just can’t stay. So we will now structure his training toward shorter races.”
Weekend Hussler pulled up a little lame also and has been sent for a long spell.
The favorite for the race was last-start group I winner Littorio and his run from well back in the field and wide to grab fifth kept his Melbourne Cup hopes alive also.
Diana Cooper, standing in as spokesperson for Sheikh Mohammed, was beaming from ear to ear when interviewed about Godolphin’s winner, however. “We have been trying to win at this level in Australia for some time and Kerrin rode this horse magnificently today. We will head to the Melbourne Cup now and I know Sheikh Mohammed would be very, very pleased with this result.”
All The Good has now won seven of his 23 starts and will be heavily supported to repeat this win in the Melbourne Cup, which will be run at Flemington over two miles in early November. He will incur a weight penalty however. Nom du Jeu ran a sterling race too.
Jeff Lloyd, who steered him to group I AJC Derby honors earlier this year at Randwick, had the Kiwi invader well back early, but his final two furlongs sprint was awesome. It was only his third run from a spell, and he will be a very fit horse come Melbourne Cup day.
The surprise was 100-1 chance Barbaricus, who took up the early running with his light weight and kept whacking away. It was only his 14th start and his 10th time hitting the boards.
All The Good now has earned $1,835,000 in stakes money, while Nom du Jeu’s purse earnings are up to $1,781,000.