One time Melbourne Cup (3200m) favourite Surprise Baby will return to Flemington on Saturday to contest another Group One feature, the Australian Cup (2000m).
The son of Shocking has had just two runs since finishing 13th in the 2020 Melbourne Cup, resuming just over a year later at Caulfield for just the one run in spring, finishing ninth in the Gr.3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1400m).
“He would have been 15 or 16 months without a run had he not had that run. He had three weeks in the paddock post that run and that was of benefit to him,” trainer Gavin Bedggood told SENTrack.
He returned to post a fourth placing first-up in the Gr.3 Carlyon Cup (1600m) at Caulfield last month and trainer Bedggood is looking forward to getting him over more ground.
“I thought he put the writing on the wall with his first-up run at Caulfield,” Bedggood said.
“He ran the third quickest 600m for the race and quickest last 200m. Spanish Mission looked impressive, but if you take him out of the race my horse was the one closing really hard. His run was full of merit and he is better at trips at 2000m and beyond.”
Bedggood said the seven-year-old gelding will also appreciate a return to the roomy Flemington track.
“The step up in distance and back to Flemington where he has predominantly won his best races, he is ready to run a big race,” he said.
Bedggood has been pleased with Surprise Baby’s work ahead of the weekend and expects a good run.
“I have been really happy with him,” he said. “His fitness is spot on, that won’t be an excuse on Saturday. He is a horse that has run his best races at a mile and a half and beyond.
“He is fit and very sound and has done a treat in-between runs.
“He had a jumpout last Monday at Cranbourne over 1400m and we haven’t left any stone unturned.
“The race is being bolstered up a bit by the big wet in Sydney.
“I am a realist, but I think he can run a really big race on Saturday.”
Surprise Baby was purchased as an unraced three-year-old for just $5500 from online auction platform gavelhouse.com, with owner John Fiteni sourcing him sight-unseen from Rich Hill Stud, breeders of memorable 2015 Melbourne Cup winner Prince of Penzance.