Surprise Baby ready for Flemington fight

By: Michael Manley Wednesday 30 September 2

Paul Preusker can't wait to see his prizefighter and star stayer Surprise Baby step into the ring when he starts in the Turnbull Stakes.

Preusker talks regularly in boxing parlance regarding Surprise Baby and said he's looking forward to him having a decent contest at Flemington over 2000 metres on Saturday.

"He's going to be a good winning chance but for me, it's all about having a spar to get him right for the Melbourne Cup," Preusker said.

"He worked super on Tuesday. Not too taxing, just beautiful and he's up for the fight on Saturday."

Preusker was pleased with the horse's first-up second to Humidor in the Feehan Stakes at Moonee Valley on September 5, although he was a little disappointed that he was beaten.

"He was there for a hitout. He wasn't good enough in the finish but he had a tough run,'" he said.

It was Surprise Baby's first start since he finished an unlucky fifth in last year's Melbourne Cup.

Preusker's solitary focus for the spring is again on the Melbourne Cup and he is even prepared to bypass the Cox Plate if he thinks it will interfere with Surprise Baby chances on the first Tuesday in November.

"We've got to be sensible. I don't want to sacrifice a Melbourne Cup by running in the Cox Plate," Preusker said.

"He'll start on Saturday and then we'll unwind and make the right decision as to whether he has another run before it."

On Tuesday, Surprise Baby's jockey Craig Williams journeyed to Horsham, 300 kilometres west of Melbourne, to ride the horse in trackwork.

Preusker believes that getting Williams better acquainted with Surprise Baby, who he has only ridden once in the Feehan Stakes, will work in their favour.

"He's getting to know the horse. There'll be a time when he has to make a split-second decision and him knowing the horse just a little better could make all the difference," Preusker said.

Williams dumped his winning mount in last year's Melbourne Cup, Vow And Declare, to ride Surprise Baby and both horses will run in the Turnbull Stakes.

Last year, Surprise Baby won his way into the Melbourne Cup by claiming The Bart Cummings on the corresponding program and Preusker has former Japanese stayer Admire Robson trying to achieve the same feat on Saturday.

"He's going really well. He's a tough horse. He seems to be fit enough," he said.

Preusker will also have three-year-old Lunar Fox in the Super Impose Stakes over 1800 metres and expects him to run well.

"When he came to me I thought he was a Guineas horse but he's a Derby horse," he said.

He also has I Am Someone in the Gilgai Stakes with his query being whether the sprinter is up to the class.