Hotel Grand, winner of the Spring Champion Stakes (Aust-I) at Randwick Oct 1, could attempt to emulate last year's winner, Savabeel, by taking the Cox Plate (Aust-I) at three.
His defeat of 6-4 favorite Pendragon by the son of Grand Lodge enabled his handler Anthony Cummings to steal the spotlight from his famous father, Bart, in the $350,000 (Australian funds) race. It was the first group I success in four years for the younger Cummings.
A superbly judged ride by Jay Ford paved the way for Hotel Grand (6-1) to score by two lengths in 2:4.84 for the 2,000 meters. Duelled (40-1 and by Redoute's Choice) failed by a head to cut Pendragon out of second place.
Ford was able to settle Hotel Grand just off the speed with cover soon after the start, and gain the sweetest run of the 11 male 3-year-olds. Acceleration was the key in the stretch and the colt had the race won more than a furlong out.
By contrast, Rod Quinn was forced to cover extra ground wide on Pendragon, after having three behind him early. It blunted his finish, but the colt ground home solidly enough to suggest he might give Bart Cummings a sixth success in the $1.5 million Victoria Derby (Aust-I, 2,500 meters) Oct 29.
The fifth-placed Manton is also headed for the Flemington classic. The Bob Ingham-owned colt is by Danehill from Kensington Gardens, dam of the 1999 Victoria Derby hero, Blackfriars.
The fifth foal of Terrestial is raced by his breeders. His five starts for the Bangaloe Stud Syndicate have yielded two wins and $345,000.
Grand Lodge worked nine seasons at Coolmore's Irish headquarters and Ingham's Woodlands Stud before his premature death. The Chief's Crown son survived for several months after badly injuring a knee in an accident at Woodlands. He was still only 12 when his battle was lost in December 2003.
Pendragon is by Danzig stallion Elnadim from Alacrity, a New Zealand Oaks (NZ-I) winner and by Victoria Derby (Aust-I) winner Grosvenor, also the sire of Manton's dam, Kensington Gardens. Elnadim was a sprinter with a July Cup (Eng-I) on his resume, but Pendragon looks and races like a stayer.