The New Zealand bred, owned and trained mare, Ethereal, won the A$4m, Group I, Tooheys New Melbourne Cup at Flemington, Tuesday to complete an historic double after earlier winning the Caulfield Cup. This grand mare has now won three Group I races in 2001 after first winning the Queensland Qaks before coming back in this spring to the two Group I handicap Cups in Melbourne.
Ethereal, owned and bred by Pencarrow Stud’s Peter and Philip Vela out their international race mare Romanee Conti, and by the Mr Prospector stallion Rhythm, came from the front line of the field at the top of the Flemington straight to chase the run away leader Give The Slip.
Give The Slip, in the familiar pace maker role for Godolphin, had lead all the way from going past the post for the first time. Freemason was second, Persian Punch third, Karasi and Marienhead fourth and waiting for Give The Slip to create the drag up to the front.
Hill of Grace and Ethereal waited patiently just behind these leaders as they passed the 1000m. The field approached the turn into the long Flemington straight and suddenly Give The Slip had done just that. The Godolphin trained 5 year-old Slip Anchor horse had gone 6 L in front.
Ethereal’s jockey, Scott Seamer, had eased the strong mare towards the front as the others fell by the wayside. But he waited before setting her alight, Give The Slip was now being worked on hard by Richard Hills, and 300m out from the post he appeared to have a winning break. Out in mid-field Seamer then went to work. Slowly the mare picked up the pace and with the same driving finish that she showed in the Caulfield Cup she came line abreast with Give The Slip, who was sliding in towards the inner rail under the pressure.
Then Ethereal was past, still driving forward, and the win was hers by a length.
Persian Punch was third some 10L in arrears. Karasi was fourth, refer seperate story for the complete finish order.
Trainer, Sheila Laxon, has become the darling of Melbourne over the past month as she has guided the mare through first the Caulfield Cup victory and all the subsequent media attention.
Laxon was delighted with her favourite mare’s win declaring, "Isn’t she just super," to the surrounding media.
Owner, Peter Vela, praised his Pencarrow Stud Manager, Leon Casey, and Stud staff for their work on the Stud situated in the rich Waikato region. Vela paid handsome tribute as well to the two females, Laxon and Ethereal, who he declared shared the same determination and class.
In drama just prior to the race Chris Wood withdrew Kaapstad Way from the race due to the rain that had fallen throughout the day and downgraded the track to soft. During the race Hill Of Grace’s rider, Cory Brown was thrown from the mare when she dipped suddenly and at last reports had injured his arm. To add to this drama, on the way back to scale streamers thrown by spectators frightened Subzero, a previous Melbourne Cup winner and the Clerk Of The Course’s mount, and he pushed into Ethereal who dislodged Scott Seamer. Even though hurting his foot Seamer remounted the winning mare and rode her into the winners stall.
Ethereal has the exceptional record of 17 starts, 7 wins and 4 places, A$4m in stakes and the 3 Group I wins to her pedigree.