If You Love A Battler's Tale, This Is The Melbourne Cup Horse For You
Sick of the European millionaires stealing all the prize money?
Hoping to see a local horse win the Melbourne Cup, trained by a local trainer with a good old-fashioned Aussie hard work ethic?
Want that horse to have a genuine chance of actually winning the race so that you can go along for the emotional ride, but hopefully win a dollar too?
Have we got a surprise for you. Or make that, a Surprise Baby!
Yes, there's a horse called Surprise Baby in this year's Melbourne Cup, and it's the equal-third favourite in the race at odds of about $11.
Surprise Baby is a five-year-old gelding sired by 2009 Melbourne Cup winner Shocking. So he always had the bloodlines to compete in a Melbourne Cup. But boy, has this late bloomer come a long way in a year.
In October last year, Surprise Baby won his first race, a 1200m event at Horsham, in the Wimmera district of western Victoria. That's where he's trained, by local trainer Paul Preusker.
Preusker has the look, and the attitude, of a bloke from the bush. He still shoes his own horses, which few city trainers do nowadays. And he's just a little rough around the edges compared to those slick city trainers, with not quite the slickness of tongue.
"I'm a bit lost for words at the minute, so you'll have to forgive me," he said after Surprise Baby qualified for the Melbourne Cup by winning a 2500m race at Flemington called 'The Bart Cummings' -- named of course after the inimitable 12-time Melbourne Cup-winning trainer.
"I'd just like to thank everyone who chips in and gives me help."
Love that. Aussies from the bush have people who "chip in". Big time overseas trainers have an army of assistants. There's nothing posh about Paul Preusker.
As for the horse himself, Surprise Baby likes to sleep outdoors rather than in a stable when he can, and he often trains in a sandy paddock rather than on a track. So there's a bit of the bush bloke about him too.
But look at that finish in the video above. Whoosh! And the trainer said he was only half ready that day. Wait till he's actually cherry ripe on Cup day.
There will be blue blood international horses in this year's Melbourne Cup who have never felt unmanicured turf below their perfect hooves. Surprise Baby is not one of them. Maybe that's what makes him so good.
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