A last-ditch attempt to get Pondus a start in the Melbourne Cup has been narrowly thwarted by Princess Jenni, who has held off the Irish raider in the Bendigo Cup.
The Joseph O’Brien trained-Pondus was number 39 in the Melbourne Cup order of entry and desperately needed to win on Wednesday to attract a weight penalty which could have elevated him into Tuesday’s famous race.
Pondus was unlucky as he lost considerable ground early in the race when local mare Super Girl broke down after the field had travelled 600 metres and he gave away a huge start.
Despite the setback, Pondus ($3.80 fav) ranged up to win but couldn’t grab the David Brideoake-trained Princess Jenni, failing by a short half-head to defeat her with Haky ($12) running on to finish third.
Although Princess Jenni started at $26 and hadn’t run a place at her four runs this time in, Brideoake maintained his faith in her.
“She’s such a good horse and, honestly, this preparation she hasn’t done anything wrong, she’s just had a series of gates and bits and pieces that didn’t allow us to get a result,” Brideoake said.
“But today it is a good result.”
Brideoake said it was also a fitting reward for Princess Jenni’s connections, the Ottobre family, who race several horses with him.
“Tony Ottobre puts his money in, he buys nice horses and he’s had good success,” he said.
Last season, Princess Jenni won the Group one Australasian Oaks but she has had mixed form this year.
Brideoake said Princess Jenni’s next start would be in the Group Two Matriarch Stakes (2000m) on the final day of the Flemington carnival on November 8.
Brideoake credited jockey Jye McNeil for producing an outstanding ride on Princess Jenni to secure the win.
The victory gave McNeil back-to-back country Cups as last week he took out the Geelong Cup on Steel Prince.
The 2400m race proved to be a tragic one for local trainer Josh Julius as his smart mare Super Girl broke down and was euthanised.
Julius won the final race with Highclass Harry, who gained a start in the $500,000 Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Final (1600m) on Oaks Day after his win in Wednesday’s 1400m heat.