Precedence has given himself a chance of becoming legendary trainer Bart Cummings’ 88th Melbourne Cup starter, as well as his co-trainer and grandson James’ first, after winning today’s $250,000 Group 2 Drake International Cup (2500m) at Moonee Valley.
Sitting in 45th position in the Melbourne Cup order of entry as of Thursday, the eight-year-old needed a win today to become eligible for a weight penalty that could potentially help his chances of gaining a start on the first Tuesday in November.
Despite finishing eighth in 2010 Melbourne Cup, 11th in 2011 and ninth in 2012, James Cummings said it would be foolish to write off the son of Zabeel’s chances of providing Bart Cummings with a 13th win in the race that stops a nation.
“There is plenty of fight left in this old boy so don’t count him out.” Cummings said.
“He’s by Zabeel and it’s a great pedigree for horses that get better with age but don’t forget that when Bart struck with Comic Court it was his third go at a Melbourne Cup so it can be done.
“Someone should tell Greg Carpenter that if he gives this horse a penalty and he gets a run in the Cup then Bart will be there on Cup day to cheer him on.”
Settling in a midfield position, Craig Williams eased Precedence ($7.50) into the clear approaching the home turn before surging to a two length lead at the top of the home straight.
Despite a late challenge from Shoreham ($5), Precedence finished full of running to hold him off by a length-and-a-half, with the same margin back to Gotta Take Care ($7) in third.
Joe Agresta, who has been a part of the Cummings team in Melbourne for decades and regularly partners Precedence in his work, said he went into today’s race full of confidence.
“Reg (Fleming, Melbourne foreman) has changed a few things with him and he’s been an absolute angel to work and he hasn’t been pulling and every time he doesn’t pull in his work he races best. I was very confident he could win today,” Agresta.
“He is there every year for us and he’s always been a bit of a backstop for us.”
“We’ve gone through a few changes over the last few months and James is here now and I hope Bart is watching from home because it would make him proud.”
Today’s triumph was the second Moonee Valley Cup success in four seasons for Precedence who also claimed the 2010 edition.
A decision on whether he receives a Melbourne Cup penalty will be announced by Racing Victoria General Manager – Racing Greg Carpenter on Monday.
Story by Ben Asgari