The United States has launched a late bid to gain a start in the Emirates Melbourne Cup with a track-record-breaking win in Saturday’s $250,000 Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m).
The big question will now be what penalty Racing Victoria Chief Handicapper Greg Carpenter allocates the Team Williams import, who elevated himself from equal 63rd to 48th in the Melbourne Cup order of entry following the win.
In winning the race, the six-year-old defeated last year’s Moonee Valley Gold Cup winner Prince Of Penzance, who 12 months earlier received a 2kg penalty for his win in the race.
Carpenter will announce what penalty the son of Galileo receives on Monday morning, though it would need to be a significant one for the horse to be any chance of making the final field in ‘the race that stops the nation’.
Part-owner Nick Williams said The United States probably deserved at least a 3kg penalty such was the strength of the performance.
“He’s a horse that we’ve had a huge opinion of but he’s had a bit of bad luck at his past two or three starts but today we saw the real deal,” Williams said.
“It was a fantastic ride by Hugh Bowman. He was as cool as a cucumber and the way he picked way through the field so patiently was the sign of an athlete in absolute peak form.
“When you see a win like that smashing the track record I’m sure that Greg Carpenter would be looking at it and give him the 3kg that he needs to get in the race, I don’t think there’s much doubt about that.”
After settling midfield on the rails throughout the race, Bowman allowed The United States ($3.60F) to improve along the fence before angling him into the clear in the straight where he finished too powerfully for Prince Of Penzance ($6) to win eased down by a half-length, with Bohemian Lily ($8) a further three-and-a-half lengths away in third.