The race that stops the nation will grind Toowoomba to a standstill this afternoon as the region holds its breath for “our horse” Incentivise.
The gelding bred in southern Queensland is going into the race a short-priced favourite (as low as $2.80 overnight), making him one of the most fancied horses in the Melbourne Cup since Phar Lap.
It comes after Incentivise took home the time-honoured Caulfield Cup — and a cool $3 million for his owners — just over two weeks ago.
Despite the enormity of today’s occasion, there’s no pressure according to the horse’s breeder, original trainer and managing owner, Steve Tregea.
“These days don’t come along very often; we’re just happy to win races in Toowoomba and Brisbane on Saturdays, that’s what we’re normally about,” he said.
“No matter what happens [on Tuesday], it’ll be a fairytale story because he won the main target that he had for this year which was the Caulfield Cup.
“This is something unexpected and we’re quite happy to accept it.”
Not all smooth sailing
Incentivise goes into the Cup on the back of nine straight wins, a streak that began with his maiden victory at the Sunshine Coast in April.
But the five-year-old’s career hasn’t always been glorious wins and big pay cheques; a lack of race experience and some bad luck meant his first three starts were ones to forget.
“He was alright, he always showed ability and always showed that he was going to want ground or distance in these races,” Tregea said.
The last time Incentivise tasted defeat was ironically in Toowoomba earlier this year when he was beaten by 16 lengths in a $20,000 maiden handicap.
Anthony Collins was calling the race that night but said there was something special about him.
“I actually said that night, ‘Forget it ever went round, he’ll win a race’,” he said.
“Little did I know that he’d go on to win a Caulfield Cup and be the focus of the $7.7 million Melbourne Cup.
“To be somewhat associated with a champion, this sort of stuff only happens to broadcasters like myself once in a career.”
Source: ABC news