One of the best races of last year was The Andrew Ramsden Stakes where Steel Prince and Surprise Baby engaged in an enthralling neck and neck struggle with a coveted Melbourne Cup start on the line for the first time in that race.
Paul Preusker and Surprise Baby had to settle for second and the trainer’s disappointment was palpable.
On Saturday Preusker returns again with another lightly raced four-year-old in Dark Alley and he is expecting that he’s going to go close to winning and gain the Golden Ticket into the Melbourne Cup.
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Although Surprise Baby finished an unlucky fifth in the Melbourne Cup, Preusker believes if he had of won the Andrew Ramsden Stakes, he would have trained him differently knowing he was a certain starter and it may have made the difference.
“I would have been able to give him a longer break rather than keeping him in work to try and get into the field.”
Preusker has a huge opinion of Dark Alley and doesn’t dismiss comparisons between that horse and Surprise Baby.
“In a few more months he’ll match right up with him. He has an awesome turn of foot for a stayer,” he said.
Last year Surprise Baby won the Adelaide Cup, a race in which Dark Alley finished fourth almost seven lengths behind King Of Leogrance, who is the favourite for The Andrew Ramsden.
Preusker though believes Dark Alley can turn the tables on King Of Leogrance.
“He hasn’t had a run since and we’ve had another one with the win at Geelong. This is the race he’s been set for,” the trainer said.
“Also the best way to ride him is to ride him a bit quieter which we will do but that didn’t happen in the Adelaide Cup. It’s going to be interesting but it’s going to be a bit tricky with the set weights.
“Also he’s getting stronger and he’s a bit more professional. He has trained on super and he’s been trained for this job. He’s a good horse. I think he can win.”
Dark Alley is $6.50 to win with TAB fixed odds. Preusker is also taking two other horses in Rupture and Orleans Rock to Flemington who he believes are likely spring players and he’s aiming them both at the Caulfield Cup.
Rupture has won six of his last eight starts including his past three runs and he is a $2.20 favourite to win the 2000m Handicap.
“He’s an unbelievably tough horse. I’ll stretch him out in distance after this.”
His other runner is Orleans Rock is a $4.20 in the Benchmark 78 event.
“He’s got a ripping attitude. He works like he’s a proper horse and he’s a very good horse. He can settle and sprint and I think he’s a spring horse.”
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