“They haven’t pushed us to get him into the Melbourne Cup. We’ve looked after the horse first and we’ll see how he comes through it. That’ll be the plan at this stage.
“He’s obviously been around a while and he keeps turning up and I said to Jye [jockey Jye McNeil] that if you’re right there at the top of the straight he’s a horse that loves a dog fight and he was too strong today.”
Steel Prince’s stablemate Le Don De Vie, in his first start for the Freedmans, was beaten a narrow second and would have to win the Lexus Stakes to run in the Cup, while third-placed King Of Leogrance is highly likely to gain a Cup start.
But Freedman said if Le Don De Vie doesn’t get into the Melbourne Cup, the 2600-metre Queen Elizabeth Stakes on the final day of the Cup carnival would be his target. True Self, who ran second in last year’s Geelong Cup, won that race in 2019.
Freedman said Steel Prince was travelling a lot better now than he was this time 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.”
Carpenter will announce on Thursday whether Steel Prince would be rehandicapped after the win.
From the beaten jockeys, Damien Oliver said San Huberto was disappointing, while Damian Lane said King Of Leogrance would improve up in trip.
“Probably just might’ve peaked on his run second-up at the 2400 metres,” Lane said.
“He improved first-up and hopefully he improves again off that.”
Skyward, for Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young, failed to make an impression under Willie Pike, while Craig Williams said Australian Bloodstock’s boom import Ashrun would improve from his first run in Australia.
“He was slow out so I think he’s going to derive a lot from today’s experience,” Williams said.
“He’s also having to come back 600 metres in distance because his two runs this prep have been at 3000 metres. First run for a while and could feel that he’s going to sharpen up from today’s experience.”
Meanwhile, the connections of listed Geelong Classic winner Confrontational will have to decide whether they want to pay a late-entry fee for next Saturday’s VRC Derby after the progressive stayer claimed Wednesday’s race.
They have until midday on Friday to stump up a non-refundable $110,000 to enter the son of Redoute’s Choice into the race, before a final declaration cost of $11,000 next Tuesday to accept to run in next Saturday’s $2 million classic worth $1.2 million to the winner.
“The plan was to see him through today and put him away for the autumn but we’ll have to sit down and maybe rethink, but he’s going to be a terrific autumn three-year-old,” co-trainer Dean Krongold said.
“We’ll get him home and assess from there.
Damien Ractliffe is the Chief Racing Reporter for The Age.