Runaway was born and raised only 20 minutes from Geelong, making him as local as Gary Ablett jnr and Patrick Dangerfield, so it would be fitting if he could win his way into the Melbourne Cup via Wednesday’s Geelong Cup.
Rosemont Stud was Runaway’s early home. When he was sold to Gai Waterhouse as a yearling, Rosemont principal Anthony Mithen was quick to approach the Hall of Fame trainer to ask who she had bought the colt for.
“She told me no one in particular and asked if I was interested in staying, so we took 25 per cent. He was always a nice horse and from a good family,” Mithen said. “His two half-sisters, Absolutely and Abbey Marie, are Oaks winners.
“I’m so happy we stayed in him, and to win a Geelong Cup would be special for us because it is really our home town. It is a race we have wanted to win for a while.”
Runaway has followed in the family tradition by winning the VRC St Leger in April and being placed in the South Australian Derby. He has been prepared with the Melbourne Cup in mind this spring.
He returned with a third over 1700m at Caulfield last month and then followed up with a gutsy fourth in the Cranbourne Cup after making the speed.
“The dream has been the Melbourne Cup, but we need to win our way in there and would need a good penalty if we were to win on Wednesday to get up that order of entry,” Mithen said.
“It is a lofty goal but Gai has told me she can do anything with a horse.
“This bloke has been trained as a stayer this spring with one race in mind.
“We needed to get some miles in his legs. That’s why he went to Cranbourne, and it gives us two cracks at getting into the Melbourne Cup – at Geelong and then 10 days later in the Lexus on Derby day.
“Hopefully we won’t need the second chance.
“[Jockey] Stephen Baster tells there is not a horse going better than him in the Waterhouse stable down here, so we are hoping he is right.”
Runaway had always shown potential as a stayer but it took until he got to Geelong over 2200m for him to deliver. That win was followed by the St Leger victory and Derby placing before he was over the top in the Andrew Ramsden Stakes over the Flemington two miles.
“We had a throw at the stumps in the Ramsden because beating the older horses over the Melbourne Cup trip would have got enough weight to get a run,” Mithen said. “He is an emerging stayer that is getting better all the time, but this is the toughest Geelong Cup I have seen for a long time.”
Borderline Melbourne Cup hopefuls Withhold and Finche head Geelong Cup betting, looking to emulate fellow raiders Media Puzzle, Americain and Dunaden in using Wednesday’s race as a springboard to Melbourne Cup success.