Imported stayer Lord Belvedere (GB) will be given a chance to sneak into the Melbourne Cup after enjoying a soft win over 2500 metres in the $135,000, Harry White Handicap at Flemington on Saturday.
Lord Belvedere started the $3.10 favourite on the back of running the fastest final 600-metre sectional at Rosehill earlier this month and he gave his supporters few troubles, eventually being eased up to win by two lengths from stablemate The Statesman ($13) and San Remo ($21).
Co-trainer Ciaron Maher said the horse has only had three runs for the campaign so will stay in work and have his runs spaced as he attempts to secure a Melbourne Cup spot through a race like The Bart Cummings where the winner is free from the Cup ballot.
"It's a long way from here to start thinking of spring, but he's a very natural stayer so we can plot a course to try and sneak him in on the minimum and who knows?" Maher said.
"It's great to get a winner for Highclere and hopefully we can come back here a bit later in the year.
"He's going to be up nice and early (in the spring). He doesn't need to race that often. We can just tick him over."
Lord Belvedere was named Mister Belvedere when Harry Herbert's Highclere purchased him out of the Tatts Horses in Training Sale for 100,000 guineas with the intention of chasing a Melbourne Cup.
Lord Belvedere had a two-length margin on the line but Maher said he felt the horse had more to give if he had been threatened.
"He won quite easily," he said. "You could see Benny (Melham) was quite confident pretty much the whole way.
"I was worried before the race the way it was going to turn out but there looked like there was a good speed and they strung out and he got into a nice position and finished it off."
Harry White Handicap, photo finish picture Racing.com