By David Nagel
Peter Moody had already reserved a special place in the annals of Australia’s rich racing history way before Incentivise produced a brave performance to run second in the $7.75million Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday.
The five-year-old son of Shamus Award/Miss Argyle – now prepared by Moody at the Pakenham Racing Club – started a pronounced favourite in the famous Flemington two-miler but was gunned down in the straight by Chris Waller’s champion mare Verry Elleegant.
Verry Elleegant scored by four lengths from Incentivise, with overseas raider Spanish Mission in third place and Floating Artist finishing in fourth place for the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace yard.
Incentivise raced outside the leader, Persan, for the best part of the race and hit the lead as the field turned for home. But Verry Elleegant cruised up to Incentivise at the 400-metre mark and raced away to score a soft victory.
For all of his great achievements, which include a remarkable magic-carpet ride with his champion sprinter Black Caviar, Moody had never tasted success in one of Australia’s four greatest races – widely acknowledged as the grand slam, heading into this spring.
While new and exciting races – concepts worth a lot of money – have burst their way on to the scene in recent times, it’s the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Golden Slipper that trainers in this country have always aspired to win.
Moody now at least as one those famous pieces of silverware tucked away in his trophy cabinet after Incentivise scored an explosive win in this year’s Caulfield Cup.
Moody, originally from the town of Wyandra – 10 hours’ drive west of Brisbane – has experienced more extreme thrills than most people could ever imagine in racing – even before Incentivise headed south to the Moody camp from the trainers home state of Queensland.
Incentivise won his first six races in Queensland under the astute care of Toowoomba-based trainer Steve Tregea.
Tregea trained Incentivise to win his last four races in Queensland by a staggering combined total of 38 lengths, including a 12-length romp in the $200,000 Group-3 Tatts Cup (24000m) at Eagle Farm in June.
Incentivise continued to build his growing reputation as one of the most exciting talents in the country with three superb wins during the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
He gained favouritism for this year’s Caulfield and Melbourne Cups with an all-the way victory in the $1million Group-1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 11.
And any doubt that the former Queenslander was the real deal were squashed after producing a magnificent performance to hold off a field of class rivals in the $1million Group-1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington (2000m) on October 2.
Incentivise became the first horse to win the Makybe Diva Stakes (formerly Craiglee
Stakes), Turnbull Stakes double since the mighty Dulcify completed the rare feat in 1979.
Dulcify would go on to win the Mackinnon Stakes and Cox Plate that year before going amiss as a short-priced favourite in the Melbourne Cup.
Moody was thrilled with the Turnbull win and full of admiration of the courage of his new stable star as he prepared him for an assault on the Caulfield Cup.
“He’s unbelievably tough, he’s been there to be beaten the length of the straight in both his runs and has just showed terrific courage,” he said.
“This will really bring him on for the Caulfield Cup.”
Incentivise then smashed his rivals at Caulfield, winning by three-and-a-half lengths in one of the best Caulfield Cup victories of all time, defeating Pakenham-owned Nonconformist in the process.
His attempt to become just the second horse to be trained at Pakenham and win the
Melbourne Cup – after Dark Felt won for Ray ‘Darby’ Webster in 1943 – may have failed…but expect Incentivise to continue to be one of the best horses in Australia over the coming years.