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Cascadian defends Australian Cup crown at Flemington and exceeds $10 million in stakes

Dave Murray

Cascadian burst through the $10 million prize-money barrier when the ageless Godolphin galloper won his second G1 Australian Cup on Saturday, 30 March at Flemington.

Conceding 15 lengths head start to the bold-striding Pride Of Jenni at the 800m pole, jockey Ben Melham weaved a passage close to the fence before pulling Cascadian across the leaders’ heels with 200m to gallop.

Displaying his customary tenacious finish, Cascadian surged in the shadows of the post to beat Pride Of Jenni by a long head.

Atishu couldn’t match the winner’s dash and was 1.75 lengths away in third place as Cascadian stopped the clock on a fast 2 minutes 0.5 seconds for the 2,000m.

It was the fourth G1 victory under head trainer James Cummings for the rising 10-year-old, who extended his record to 12 wins and 15 placings from 53 starts for prize-money earnings of $10,641,275.

Cascadian encountered a slight training setback and raced only once last spring after a G1-winning autumn 12 months ago.

Godolphin Australia's racing and bloodstock manager, Jason Walsh, heaped praise on Cummings and his staff for the care afforded Cascadian, and his racetrack longevity.

“That’s a great credit to the entire life cycle Cascadian has enjoyed in the Godolphin system,” Walsh said.

“A home-bred who started in France with Andre Fabre and now still racing at the top level in Australia, with age against him, I think it’s a credit to our team.

“He’s a really unique animal and that feat (consecutive Australian Cups) is rare and speaks to his quality.

“He’s a horse who has always given his best on the racecourse and it’s fitting that he could defend his crown today.”

Walsh admitted being concerned when Cascadian was still at the tail of the field with 600m to run. 

“I was a little worried when he (Melham) went back to the inside,” he said.

“But he’s a great horse and we’re very lucky to have had him.”

“Everyone has been saying at home that he’s retained all of his zest for training.”

Melham was thrilled with Cascadian’s performance, and also with his own.

“Ride of the year, I reckon,” he said, with a chuckle. 

“James and the Godolphin team have done a tremendous job with this horse.”

“He ran really well the other day (third), like he did last year in The All-Star Mile, and came out and won.”

“I tell you what, if you could ever declare a horse on the way to the barrier, this is him.”

“Couldn’t have been in better order which gave me the confidence to ride him like I wanted to.”

“He loves pinching runs and sneaking around the place, he was just too good for them.”

“To see horses his age still beating the best horses in the land at this trip is phenomenal to see.”

“Massive feat for him to win two in a row.”

Walsh said Cascadian was “perfectly deserving of his place in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes” at Randwick on 13 April but that decision wouldn’t be taken lightly.

“He does love Randwick, so all going well we would certainly be giving it strong consideration for a couple of weeks’ time.”

Meanwhile, VRC Oaks winner Zardozi is likely to run on the same day, in the G1 Australian Oaks (2,400m).

Zardozi (Tom Marquand) finished a brave third behind boom New Zealand filly Orchestral and Tutta La Vita in the G1 Vinery Stud Stakes over 2,000m at Rosehill and looks set for a rematch in the Oaks.

“She ran bravely again, but all credit to the winner today,” Walsh said.

“She was there to be beaten and Zardozi got up to eye-ball her upon straightening and gave us reason to cheer.”

“Tom was glowing in his praise for how she performed up to that trip, so hopefully a mile-and-a-half she can call on those stamina reserves we’ve seen from her.”

“We look forward to a couple of weeks’ time.”