The Geelong Cup proved a triumph for the Anthony and Sam Freedman stable as they trained the quinella, with Steel Prince holding off imported stablemate Le Don De Vie.
The win was a special one for Sam Freedman as it was his first Group win as a trainer.
Freedman is hoping both of his horses will have their next starts in the Melbourne Cup but Steel Prince is number 35 in the order of entry and Le Don De Vie number 38.
Steel Prince is expected to attract a weight penalty for his Geelong Cup win, which could help elevate him into the Melbourne Cup field.
If Le Don De Vie doesn’t gain a berth, he will run in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes on the final day of the Flemington carnival.
Before the race, Freedman told Steel Prince’s jockey Jye McNeil that the horse loved a dog fight and that’s exactly what he got into with his stablemate and King Of Leogrance over the closing stages.
In a thrilling finish, Steel Prince ($3.60 fav) held off Le Don De Vie ($8) by a long head with King Of Leogrance ($8.50) another 1-1/4 lengths away third.
Last year Steel Prince finished ninth in the Melbourne Cup and Freedman said he had earned another chance in the race.
“The owners have been really patient with him. They haven’t pushed us to get him into the Melbourne Cup,” Freedman said.
“We’ve looked after the horse first and we’ll see how he comes through it. That’ll be the plan at this stage.”
Freedman said Steel Prince was a better horse than last year when he had a chequered preparation, compared to a perfect one this time around.
He praised Jye McNeil and said the jockey was riding at the top of his game and delivered a brilliant winning ride.
McNeil said the Geelong Cup win proved Steel Prince was back to his best.
“He went great last year in the Melbourne Cup and based on today he’s going as well as last time. He’ll run an honest race for sure,” McNeil said.
Danny O’Brien had a great day at Geelong with four winners – Reflect The Stars, Serengeti, Murillo and November Dreaming.