By David Nagel
Racing’s a funny game – and anything can happen between now and the first Tuesday in November – but Pakenham may have its second Melbourne Cup winner in its midst after Incentivise created a huge impression at Flemington on Saturday.
Now trained at Tynong by Peter Moody, the boom five-year-old gelding retained favouritism for this year’s Melbourne Cup with an all-the-way victory in the $1million Group-1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at headquarters.
The son of Shamus Award/Miss Argyle has now won seven consecutive races, with Saturday’s win the first for the Moody camp after transferring from the care of Queensland trainer Steve Tregea.
Under Tregea’s care, Incentivise won his last four races by a combined total of 38 lengths including a 12-length romp in the $200,000 Group-3 Tatts Cup (24000m) at Eagle Farm in June.
Moody said there was still more to come from his new stable star, who is looking to become just the second horse from Pakenham to win the race that stops the nation.
Local trainer Ray ‘Darby’ Webster prepared Dark Felt for victory from his Racecourse Road stables in 1943.
“There’s nice improvement to come,” Moody told Racing.com after the race.
“As we saw today, the further he gets into a race he builds nicely, so even though they got to him, you knew he was going to keep going and it’s very encouraging at this stage of the spring.
“We’ve only got one more run between now and the cup, which will probably be the Turnbull (Stakes).”
In-form jockey Brett Prebble used his initiative, taking Incentivise to an early lead and dictating the race from pole position.
Prebble stacked up the field at the 600, before asking Incentivise for an effort, with the star prospect delivering with the fastest 200 metres of the race – running 10.97 between the 400 and 200-metre poles to open up a race-winning advantage.
Incentivise fought off a late challenge from group-1 winners, Mo’unga and Sir Dragonet, to win by half a length on the line.
Prebble was full of praise for the five-year-old after his first race ride on the rising star of Australian racing.
“I had to ask him for a little bit of speed from the barrier, but that’s totally understandable because he’s coming back from longer trips,” Prebble said.
“I was pretty keen to take the front and I thought he had a nice enough time in front, he got his action good, he was on his right leg and it was game over.
“He was really balanced and is a really relaxed sort of horse, which is a real bonus, you can dig him from the gate and he floats along…he’s underneath you but he’s not aggressive.
“I tried to give him as soft a run as I could, because I thought we’ve got a long way to go (this spring).
“They came at him, I let them get about him, but then when I asked him for an effort and he dug deep and won.
“If I let him go at the top of the straight I think he would have opened up and give them more to chase, but I tried to give him that softer run, first time out over the mile, and we got away with it.”
Prebble said Incentivise was the real deal, and gave him the impression that he would measure up against the best stayers in the business on the first Tuesday in November.
“He does, and the figures tell you that,” Prebble said.
“Figures don’t lie and the computer boys will tell you that what he does has his ratings through the roof.
“It’s a long way to go, a lot of water to go under the bridge.
“I’ve been in this position before but you have to be here on the first Tuesday in November in the same form as he showed today.
“As long as Pete (Moody) can keep him healthy and the horse is good within himself, I think he’s good enough to win it, but, as I said, there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge.”
Tregea, a Toowoomba-based trainer who has a reputation for being one of Australia’s leading horse traders, bred and still part owns Incentivise after selling a half share to prominent owners Brae Sokolski and Ozzie Kheir.
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