Vengeur Masque wins Queen Elizabeth Stakes

Imported stayer Vengeur Masque has gained some consolation from missing out on a Melbourne Cup start with a tough victory in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Flemington.

Vengeur Masque ($6.50) led and rallied strongly in the straight in Saturday’s 2600m Group Three race to win by three-quarters of a length over Grey Lion ($26), with Wheal Leisure ($9.50) another half-length away third.

English stayer Qewy finished sixth as the $3.20 favourite and his trainer Charlie Appleby announced the popular eight-year-old would be retired.

Trainer Mike Moroney was desperate to get Vengeur Masque into last Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup but the stayer was left stranded outside the top 24 at acceptance time for the second year.

Vengeur Masque won the Geelong Cup last month and finished a close second last Saturday in the Lexus Stakes when trying to earn a Cup ballot exemption.

Moroney was disappointed Vengeur Masque didn’t initially get enough weight to make this year’s Cup field, believing the gelding had done enough, and has now set his sights on next year.

“The disappointment for us is that we didn’t make the Melbourne Cup,” Moroney said.

“I really felt it was the first of probably the next two years that he was going to be a Melbourne Cup chance.

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“I really felt he would have really run well but we just missed out.

“He’s just got stronger this year and he’ll get better.

“I think next year he’s going to be better again.”

By being a Melbourne Cup acceptor who was balloted out, Vengeur Masque earned a $100,000 bonus for his connections on top of the $180,000 first prize.

Jockey Patrick Moloney said Vengeur Masque kept fighting “like a caged tiger” in the straight.

Qewy’s jockey Kerrin McEvoy said the gelding felt the ground on Saturday and Godolphin trainer Appleby said the stayer had done the team proud and earned his retirement.

Qewy won the Geelong Cup and Sandown Cup last spring and was fourth in the Melbourne Cup.

He added the Bendigo Cup this year in track record time.

“He’s done a great job and deserves a healthy retirement,” Appleby said.