Demerger warms up for Sydney Cup with narrow win

DANNY O'Brien's classy mare Demerger has already captured one group 1 staying test over two miles — last year's Adelaide Cup. Now she will go to Sydney to try to double her long-distance haul in the group 1 Sydney Cup next month.

The five-year-old, patiently ridden by Steven Arnold, threaded her way through the field in the Flemington straight yesterday to book herself a ticket to Randwick with a narrow win in the 2500-metre group 3 Queen's Cup.

The half-neck victory for the $3.70 favourite over the fast-finishing Kindjhal ($15), with the other market select Diamond Jake ($4) just a half length away third, might have been by a slim margin.

But it was enough to leave her trainer smiling as he believes there is plenty of improvement still to come from a horse who has now won eight times in 40 starts and earned nearly $1 million in prizemoney.

O'Brien said Demerger had gone into yesterday's test probably "half a run short" to be confident that she would be at her top over the 2500-metre distance and he had told the lanky Arnold to ride her quietly and save her for one late go at her rivals.

The lack of pace played into Arnold's hands as he was able to conserve his mount for a challenge near the rails as long-time leader Vengo belied his $31 price by hanging on until close to home.

"Fortunately for us there was not a lot of speed. If it had been really hot she might have been found out," said O'Brien.

Demerger had been set for the Melbourne Cup in the spring and although she ran well on the way to the big race, she rarely figured in the placings of her lead-up races. This time in she has been set for the Sydney Cup, but has now picked up two winner's cheques on the way, having also won at Flemington first time up this preparation.

O'Brien said she will run once or twice in Sydney on the way to the Sydney Cup, nominating the Chairman's Handicap and BMW as potential lead-up races.

"She's going as well as she was this time last year (when she won an Adelaide Cup in the late autumn). We cribbed a race today when it was nice to be at her home track. The Sydney Cup will be her grand final — that's the race we had in line for her this autumn but it's nice to pick up a couple of races on the way through."

Runner-up Kindjhal, from the all-conquering David Hayes stable, ran his best race for some time after the state's leading rider, Craig Williams, employed a change of tactics. Instead of making the running, he dropped the gelding out to the back of the field and tried to grab the race with a late run, a tactic that almost succeeded.

By Michael Lynch - The Age

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