Kalapour earns final golden ticket into 2023 Melbourne Cup

Kalapour ridden by Damien Oliver wins the Archer Stakes at Flemington Racecourse. (Photo by Pat Scala/Racing Photos)

In what will be his final Melbourne Cup Carnival, Damien Oliver has claimed his first victory aboard Kalapour (+400) for great mate Kris Lees in the Group 3 Archer Stakes at Flemington.

As a ballot exempt race for the 2023 Melbourne Cup, the son of War Command has now booked his spot in the 3200m classic next Tuesday after winning the Archer.

Kalapour is now a (+5000) chance in the 2023 Melbourne Cup futures market with online bookmakers.

The race seemed to have no speed on paper before the jump, and that is exactly what appeared as the runners ran out of the straight for the first time, so Oliver chose to take up the lead from barrier one.

Oliver allowed Kalapour to settle and run along at his own pace, clocking a few 13-second sectionals down the back straight, which indicated to spectators and punters that they weren’t breaking any records.

At the top of the home straight, Oliver released the brakes on the leader and he kicked two-lengths clear of Athabascan (+170), and even though the race favourite chased gamely, the Kris Lees-trained stayer held him at bay in the final 100m.

2023 Archer Stakes Replay – Kalapour | T: Kris Lees |J: Damien Oliver

Kris Lees was very happy that he had two runners in the 2023 Melbourne Cup, and he spoke post-race about both runners.

“I’m rapt to have a winner with Damien in what will be his last spring carnival. It certianly means a lot to me,” Lees said.

“Whenever I bring horses down here, if they a chance he’ll certainly ride them.

“I’ve had a great association (with him) and I’m glad he could get a win for us today.

“I didn’t give Damien any instructions.

“I said to him, ‘what are you going to do’ and he thought he’d be box seating but when he jumped so cleanly, he was able to dictate in front, I was very confident in the run.

“With a couple of sections of 13.5, I knew he was going to be hard to run down.

“It wasn’t a tough run. We’ll see how he pulls up but I’d expect him to back up.

“He drops to 50 kilos, I think he is, he’s a horse in form which is what you want to see, I think he’ll acquit himself well.

“They’ve got to do something Tuesday as well but it’s great to have two runners for sure.

“He (Cleveland) had a nice gallop this morning, he’s in good order. Looking forward to the day.”

Damien Oliver brought up 86th winner at the Melbourne Cup Carnival over his career, and he spoke post-race.

“It is great to get one under the belt early. It is great for the confidence,” Oliver said.

“This horse has been running really consistently all season and it is great that he can win a nice race today.

“Barrier one was much better than barrier 16 (in Newcastle Cup), I can tell you.

“He jumped well. I wasn’t really planning to lead but the more I got closer to the gates I thought it was an option. I didn’t want to hand the lead up to United Nations.

“They were going fairly pedestrian up the straight (first time) and I thought ‘bugger it, why not lead’.

“He kicked nicely for me on the bend, he actually changed stride about 100 metres after we straightened and he just lost his action a little bit but then gathered it up nicely and because he’d had it so easy in front he was able to hold them off.

“I’m not sure what the plan is with him but he’s had a pretty easy run today if they wanted to go there (Melbourne Cup), the horse is in great condition, he’s a really healthy animal and he’s just a gentleman of a horse.”

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