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Smokin’ Romans win makes him Caulfield Cup 2022 favourite, Lunar Flare stamps credentials for Melbourne Cup 2022 and a place for trainer Grahame Begg



The victory was the six-year-old gelding’s ninth win from 23 starts.

Maher said Smokin’ Romans jockey Ethan Brown predicted he would run a big race, and he was proven correct.

The victory gave the 23 year-old Brown his third group 1 win but he will miss the ride in the Caulfield Cup as he will ride Snapdancer in the Everest for the Maher and Eustace stable that day.

Maher said Jamie Kah would ride Smokin’ Romans in the Caulfield Cup.

Brown also rode Smokin’ Romans to win his previous start the Naturalism Stakes at Caulfield at his previous start, and he said that run had improved him.

Brown positioned Smokin’ Romans in second place soon after the start behind the front-runner Knights Order and stayed in that spot until he took the lead with 300m to go.

Brown gave a salute on winning and said the feeling of winning a group 1, and one for Maher and Eustace, was indescribable.

Smokin’ Romans ($21) defeated Maximal ($14) by a length and a half with Young Werther ($8.50) a short head away third.

Ben Melham, who rode Maximal, said Maximal was much better on a firmer track and that it was a good run. Young Werther made it consecutive placings in the Turnbull Stakes as he finished second last year.

His trainer Danny O’Brien said he was unlucky as he was restricted behind the winner, and said his other starter Inspirational Girl, who finished seventh, was also held up in the straight.

Although favourite Gold Trip finished fifth after being trapped wide, his jockey Jamie Kah was effusive about the effort. “Super run, we just had no luck. He’s got through the ground well though and he’s run out of his skin,” Kah said.

Lunar Flare stamps Melbourne Cup credentials with Bart Cummings victory

Astute trainer Grahame Begg confirmed he will have his first Melbourne Cup runner when Lunar Flare took out the Bart Cummings (2500 metres) at Flemington on Saturday.

Although the winner of the Bart Cummings is guaranteed a start in the $7.75 million Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 1, Lunar Flare already has one as she was No.21 in the order of entry.

For Begg, the result was confirmation the seven-year-old mare had the talent to be a Melbourne Cup starter and fulfilled his ambition to have a runner in Australia’s most famous race.

The former NSW-based trainer made a move to Victoria in 2016 after he took a sabbatical from training and won the 2018 Blue Diamond Stakes with Written By.

Michael Dee guides Lunar Flare to victory in the Bart Cummings at Flemington.Credit:Getty Images

Begg, the son of Hall of Fame trainer Neville Begg, trained several top horses from Sydney including Telesto and Our Egyptian Raine.

“This year we set out to have her in the Melbourne Cup if she was good enough, now she’s fully qualified so it’s terrific,” Begg said.

“This will be my first runner. It is [great] for the stable, they’ve done a wonderful job presenting her here on the day and I thank the ownership group, they’ve been very understanding and have helped us along.”

Begg pointed out that it was only Lunar Flare’s third run this time in, and she had more improvement to come.

“She’ll go to the Moonee Valley Cup in three weeks time, she likes that little bit of a space between her runs and then 12 days into the Melbourne Cup.”

Begg said Lunar Flare’s jockey Michael Dee gave her a perfect ride.

It was Lunar Flare’s seventh win since he joined the Begg stable at the start of 2020.

“She’s come up really, really good this time and this is the first preparation we’ve had that we know where she’s at because in previous preparations we didn’t even know where her ceiling was until she won the Moonee Valley Cup last year,” Begg said.

Begg said Lunar Flare was tenacious in a finish and not many horses got past her in a tight finish.

The race was messy with a slow tempo and the unlucky runner was Francesco Guardi ($21) who clipped heels with 800m to go and almost fell but flew home to finish second, beaten a long neck by Lunar Flare ($6).

His jockey Craig Newitt said Francesco Guardi knuckled after he took an awkward stride.

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