Amade snatches Geelong Cup with peach ride from Zac Spain

Amade, ridden by Zac Spain, wins the Geelong Cup. (Photo: Reg Ryan/Racing Photos)

Amade burst through a needle-eye gap late to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the Group 3 Geelong Cup on Wednesday afternoon.

The son of Casamento has since shortened from +20000 to +10000 in the 2023 Melbourne Cup betting markets.

Although the 10-year-old gelding missed the jump by three lengths, jockey Zac Spain got his mount to settle at the rear of the field and was travelling nicely on the home turn but needed a run to appear.

When the gap did open between a slowing King Frankel (+800) and Ashrun (+380), Spain pushed the button and Amade sprinted the best of his rivals to drive through and find the line first ahead of Ashrun and Sir Lucan (+1800) in a blanket finish.

The race favourite, First Immortal (+190), received a great ride from Jamie Kah, but when he hit the final 400m, the son of Churchill didn’t have anything to give and weakened through the pack to finish seventh – beaten by just over a length.

2023 Geelong Cup replay | Amade | T: Phillip Stokes | J: Zac Spain

Winning trainer Phillip Stokes was full of praise for both horse and rider when speaking to the press after the race.

“Fantastic. He’s been building up to this,” he said.

“His run in The Bart Cummings was good and he was peaking today.

“It’s funny when you bring him back to a track where he missed the kick here by 12 lengths two years ago and got beaten four (lengths).

“Big thanks to Terry Henderson and the team at OTI, they’ve stuck with us and trusted us with this horse.

“Zac gave him a peach of a ride.

“We had this idea that we were going to go forward on him today and take the bull by the horns, but that didn’t work out, so Zac went to Plan B and it worked out beautifully.”

When Stokes was asked if the Melbourne Cup would be next, he played his cards close to his chest.

“I doubt it but we’ll keep the dream alive, but we’ve got the Queen Elizabeth Stakes earmarked,” he said.

Spain claimed his first Geelong Cup aboard Amade, who is known to be tardy out of the gates.

“He’s a very tricky horse,” he said.

“He’s definitely got a mind of his own, that’s for sure, and his last couple of starts he’s actually been jumping, which has been his issue a couple of preps ago.

“He got into a bad habit of missing the starts by between six and 10 lengths.

“I knew he wasn’t going to jump today. First Immortal lunged forward and he didn’t bat an eyelid.

“He was very laidback in there and I went ‘no, he’s not going to jump’.

“So we went to Plan B and rode him quiet.

“He was absolutely bolting to the corner and he just needed the run, and when the run came he sprinted really well.

“I thought he was always going to improve, and first-up 1700 metres straight up to 2500 in The Bart Cummings, he ran out of his skin and blew out late.

“His third-up form is good – he’s three-from-three now.

“With the bit of rain and the sting out of the track, it benefited him being an older horse.”

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