Prince picks up gold pass to Melbourne Cup
POWERFUL English raider A Prince of Arran is assured of a start in Tuesday's $7.3 million Melbourne Cup after claiming the Group 3 Lexus Stakes at Flemington on Saturday.
Trained by Charlie Fellowes at Newmarket, he is the 10th international who has won a start in the race that stops the nation.
The impressive import was not penalised for his Lexus victory.
Second-placed Brimham Rocks, who has been so consistent, will almost certainly miss a cup start.
"He's done well … I actually hit the front too early," jockey Michael Walker said.
"These European horse keep going. I'm looking forward to Tuesday, I've got a ride now."
Trainer Charlie Fellowes couldn't believe his good fortune.
"Plans don't often come off like that. He's in great form. Natasha has done an unbelievable job for him, all year even, in that I can't believe we're in the Cup," he said.
"This was our derby. This was the race that we needed to win. Anything from now on is a bonus. We will freshen him up.
"Hopefully he comes out of it good. We'll give it our best shot on Tuesday."
Jockey Walker continued his recent good form after winning the Bendigo Cup on Wednesday and last Sunday's Sale Cup.
The race was delayed by several minutes in sensational circumstances, with a power outage to the photo-finish camera forcing stewards to hold the field.
The loading process was almost complete before stewards asked for the runners to be withdrawn and the race put back 10 minutes.
Earlier, champion jockeys Hugh Bowman and Craig Williams said they believed Flemington's track was too firm - after only three races.
Bowman, who produced two of the first three winners, said: "It's (the track) racing very fairly but in my humble opinion it's too firm."
The track was upgraded from a Good 4 to a Good 3 after the first race.
Williams said the well-grassed surface counted against Skyway Star when the filly finished seventh in the Wakeful Stakes behind Aristia.
"The firmness of the track might have been against her," Williams said.