How a spider bite made a jockey's Caulfield Cup dream
FIRST emergency De Little Engine is into the Caulfield Cup courtesy of a spider bite to New Zealand raider Fanatic.
A last-start seventh to Hartnell in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington on October 2, De Little Engine was scratched from Saturday's Group 3 Coongy Handicap (2000m) after Fanatic was withdrawn by connections.
Six-year-old gelding De Little Engine, whose last win came over 2800m at Flemington on Melbourne Cup day last year, was listed at $67 on Thursday with Ladbrokes, but trainer Danny O'Brien thought he should be much shorter than that.
"We are happy to run in the Caulfield Cup,” he told racing.com.au.
"The horse worked strongly on Tuesday morning and might surprise a few people.”
Having ridden De Little Engine in that training gallop at Flemington, apprentice Ben Thompson takes the mount in what will be his first race ride on the gelding.
Not surprisingly, the 19-year-old was shocked to learn the good news.
"I was riding in the jump-outs at Seymour and one of the barrier boys said to me my horse got a start in the Caulfield Cup,” he told racing.com.au.
"I thought he was geeing me up. I said, 'Don't muck around and make jokes about something like that.'
"He laughed and said, 'No, Fanatic has been scratched and De Little Engine is now in the field.'
"I couldn't believe it, I'm still pinching myself.
"His run in the Turnbull Stakes was very strong. His closing sectionals were impressive and I liked the way he worked this week.”
Precautionary scans were performed on Fanatic after swelling and puncture wounds were detected on one of her legs.
She has been given the all-clear and the Melbourne Cup remains a target, although she will need another run.
The winner of this year's Caulfield Cup will be invited to contest the Japan Cup, the Japan Racing Association announced on Thursday.