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Cully chases Excelleration celebration

Excelleration won't be chasing a fourth-straight Cup success on Saturday, but the lure of a start in the biggest Cup of all is the reason the gelding will be at Flemington.

Trainer Richard Cully is keen to get his hands on the Melbourne Cup ballot exemption that accompanies victory in the $500,000 Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes.

The 2800-metre event will be his first start since winning the Group 2 Adelaide Cup on March 11 and Cully said a shot at a guaranteed place in the Melbourne Cup with a horse who has won his past three starts was an opportunity too good to pass up.

"It is a little bit of an after-thought, he was originally going to pull up stumps after Adelaide, but when this race was there, I thought if we left our plans until spring to try and get into the Cup we might narrow our options down," he said.

"So I just thought if we have a crack at this, and we were lucky enough to win it, at least then you can make plans for the spring."

Excelleration's win in the 3200m Adelaide Cup win followed victory in the Group 3 Launceston Cup (2400m) 12 days prior, having started his Cups streak with a 4-1/4-length romp in the 1950m Great Western Cup on January 28.

The Excelebration (GB) seven-year-old has been kept up to the mark with two trials, the first a low-key hit-out over 1000m at Bendigo on April 23, before a five-length win in a 1400m Horsham trial on May 6 and Cully said the gap between runs could be to his advantage.

"I don't know if he had two runs left in him, that's all," Cully said on Monday morning. "He was pretty tired after Adelaide, so we backed off him then we peaked him back up again.

"He's a very clear-winded horse. He galloped this morning, it was a solid gallop, and he had a heart-rate of 80 straightaway after.

"It is a question mark, but he's a very clear winded horse, and I think he could run over a mile straight out of a paddock. I also think with the quick back-up in Adelaide you didn't see him at his best, I think he's still a length or two better than that."

Exceleration was one of 17 entries for the Andrew Ramsden Stakes with South Australia's rising star The Map, Easter Cup winner Captain Envious (NZ), 2022 Perth Cup winner Midnight Blue and the Mornington Cup trifecta of Esti Feny (Hun), Little Mix and Strawberry Rock among his potential rivals.

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