‘Retri­bu­tion’ bonus


HE’S been the Mel­bourne Cup’s hard luck tale for the past two years and Vengeur Masque’s con­nec­tions hailed a piece of ‘‘retri­bu­tion’’ af­ter the Queen Eliz­a­beth Stakes win­ner was con­tro­ver­sially de­nied a spot in Tues­day’s great race by a jockey who flouted the whip rule.

Mike Moroney’s im­port scooped a $100,000 bonus for win­ning the group 3 race on the fi­nal day of the Flem­ing­ton car­ni­val on Satur­day but the is­sue of whether he should have gone around four days ear­lier in the $6 mil­lion Cup was still at the fore­front of their minds.

Vengeur Masque nar­rowly missed out on win­ning the Lexus Stakes – which pro­vides au­to­matic 11th hour qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the win­ner – when Cis­mon­tane’s rider Stephen Baster used the whip five times more than al­lowed be­fore the 100 me­tres last Satur­day.

‘‘It’s jus­tice, I think, isn’t it? Af­ter what hap­pened last Satur­day it’s [a con­so­la­tion],’’ Vengeur Masque’s man­ag­ing part-owner Ru­pert Legh said as the Geelong Cup win­ner held off Grey Lion in the Queen Eliz­a­beth Stakes.

‘‘You don’t like to get caught up in it, but if we whipped our horse just as much who knows what the end re­sult would have been? It was un­for­tu­nate be­cause he had the right weight for the Mel- bourne Cup, we knew he would stay the two miles and to­day is a good bit of retri­bu­tion.’’

Vengeur Masque was stranded at No 25 in last year’s Mel­bourne Cup or­der of en­try and de­spite com­ing close in the Lexus Stakes and in ar­guably bet­ter form was left adrift at No 26 this year.

The Vic­to­ria Rac­ing Club is again set for dis­cus­sions with Tab­corp over the pos­si­bil­ity of adding emer­gen­cies to the Mel­bourne Cup af­ter Who Shot The­bar­man was scratched more than 48 hours be­fore this year’s race.

‘‘It’s got to be done now,’’ Legh said. ‘‘They can fix it and it just mat­ters how com­mit­ted they are to fix­ing it. He’s close to be­ing in the Mel­bourne Cup next year and now we hope­fully don’t have to worry about it.’’

Vengeur Masque ral­lied un­der a strong chal­lenge from Matt Cu­mani’s Grey Lion, win­ning by three-quar­ters-of-a-length as Bendigo Cup hero Qewy laboured into sixth.

Trainer Char­lie Ap­pleby im­me­di­ately re­tired last year’s Mel­bourne Cup fourth placeget­ter.

‘‘He owes Godol­phin noth­ing,’’ Ap­pleby said. ‘‘He’s done a great job and de­serves a healthy re­tire­ment. Break­ing track records is great, but when you have to back them up in a cer­tain amount of time it tells. He lost noth­ing in de­feat in my eyes any­way.’’

It will al­most cer­tainly be a case of third time lucky for Vengeur Masque’s con­nec­tions, who can po­ten­tially start plan­ning with some cer­tainty their im­prov­ing stayer has done enough to force his way into the 2018 Cup field.

‘‘It’s just dis­ap­point­ing that he didn’t make the Mel­bourne Cup, we knew it was his first year of the next two to make the Cup," Moroney said. "I would have loved to have run him this year, he would have re­ally run well but we just missed out.’’

Added jockey Pa­trick Moloney: ‘‘He’s a bit dirty he didn’t get into the Mel­bourne Cup, I think. He didn’t want to lay down to­day. As soon as he got chal­lenged by that horse [Grey Lion], I knew I had a bit up my sleeve and he just kept fight­ing like a caged tiger.’’


Jockey Pa­trick Maloney and Vengeur Masque win the Queen Eliz­a­beth Stakes at Fem­ing­ton yes­ter­day.

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