‘What a warrior’: Melbourne Cup contender emerges

A gutsy Geelong Cup win has launched a Melbourne Cup runner into contender status.

Steel Prince claimed a hard-fought win over Le Don De Vie to salute over the line and claim Geelong Cup honours.

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The gallant seven-year-old finished ninth in last year’s Melbourne Cup and will look to continue a recent stellar run of form.

After back-to-back third place finishes in the Naturalism Stakes and the Bart Cummings, Steel Prince went even better and booked a place in this year’s race that stops the nation.

The Geelong Cup has long proved a solid form race for the Melbourne Cup with three winners having completed the Geelong-Melbourne double since 2002.

Media Puzzle (2002), Americain (2010) and Dunaden (2011) all saluted in the Geelong Cup before going on to claim Melbourne Cup glory.

Prince of Arran won the Geelong Cup in 2019 before finishing second in the Melbourne Cup.

The tough Steel Prince fights out the finish to win the Group 3 Geelong Cup from Le Don De Vie on the line. pic.twitter.com/caeM9smsTd

Steel Prince was a rank outsider at around $51 to win the Melbourne Cup, but shortened all the way down to $26 after its tough win in Geelong.

Trainer Sam Freedman was full of praise for the horse after the brilliant Group 3 victory.

“Credit to this horse, he is incredible. He has obviously been around a while and he keeps turning up,” Freedman said of the seven-year-old.

“I said to Jye, ‘If you’re right there at the top of the straight he is a horse that loves a dogfight’. He was too strong today.”

Chief handicapper Greg Carpenter will announce Steel Prince’s Melbourne Cup weight penalty on Thursday.

The recent run of form has Freedman in a much better mindset this time around compared to last year.

“He had a chequered last prep, got scratched at the gates in the Herbert Power last prep and we lost five or six days’ work with him,” he said.

“Just wasn’t perfect so he’s had a perfectly planned prep this time and we know, or we hope, we get in the race [Melbourne Cup] so we can go there now.

“Some champions have won this race and gone on to win the Melbourne Cup and this horse is a proven, very good stayer so he seems perfectly placed for the Melbourne Cup.”

Rapt for the fantastic group of owners in Steel Prince, winning the Geelong Cup. Looks on track for his second Melbourne Cup start if he gets the right penalty. He deserves to be there again (9th last year). What a warrior he is – as Sam Freedman said: "He loves a dog fight."

Jye McNeil is riding superbly.
Another peach there on Steel Prince.👏#GeelongCup

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