A conservative approach from Horsham trainer Paul Preusker led to Surprise Baby being a shock omission from the field for Saturday’s Group 2 Zipping Classic (2400m).
Glen Boss had been booked to ride Surprise Baby in the Zipping Classic but will watch the $250,000 race from the jockeys’ room after Preusker did not pay up to run the gelding in the Zipping Classic.
Racing Victoria chief steward Robert Cram said Preusker had advised him the horse hasn’t done well enough since his unplaced Melbourne Cup outing to take his place at Sandown.
“I’ve spoken to him (Preusker) and he’s explained that, in his view, the horse hasn’t fully recovered from the Melbourne Cup,” Cram said. “He doesn’t think he’s quite ready for another run just yet.”
Surprise Baby finished nearly nine lengths from the winner Twilight Payment in the Melbourne Cup, which was run at a gruelling tempo this year.
Twilight Payment led throughout the 3200m race with his winning time of 3:17.34 the fastest time recorded since Media Puzzle’s 3:16.97 in 2002.
Rider Craig Williams reported to stewards on the day that Surprise Baby “pulled up distressed” after the race.
Godolphin runner Avilius is one of three runners backing up from the Melbourne Cup along with Etah James and Miami Bound. Avilius lines up in the Zipping Classic, which has attracted a field of nine runners, while Etah James and Miami Bound are in the Sandown Cup.
Damien Oliver will take over aboard Avilius on Saturday.
TAB has Avilius as a $4.20 second favourite behind the $4 favourite, the Mike Moroney-trained Sound, in its early Zipping Classic market.