While Rekindling shocked many to claim the Melbourne Cup, there was no surprises in the second race of the day at the Carlton Mid Melbourne Cup Raceday in Tamworth.
Red-hot favourite Excitable saluted to give favourite-backers a top up in the $6000 Courthouse Hotel Class 1 Handicap (1000m).
The win was the five-year-old gelding’s second in succession with Josh Oliver on board.
Oliver – who also rode the first winner of the day to complete an early double – dashed Excitable across from his wide gate to lead and then hold off all challengers for a good win over Jen Butler’s New York Philly.
While the winner’s name is Excitable, the same couldn’t be said for cool, calm and collected trainer Luke Morgan after the victory.
“He’s no champion...but going along not too bad,” a reserved Morgan said following the win.
Excitable had won an 1100-metre Armidale maiden at his previous start and showed speed and strength to lead and fight on for a good win under Oliver’s riding.
Oliver, 21, is a former New Zealander who has spent the last two years based in Toowoomba but has recently had an extended stay in the region.
“I’ve spent the last two weeks staying with Cody,” Oliver said of Luke Morgan’s older brother and trainer Cody Morgan.
“It’s been good.”
He might stay on for a little longer, he reckons, and add to the 180 wins he’s amassed so far.
Morgan is also hoping there are a few more wins in store for Excitable, although he doesn’t let himself get too excited.
Rather, he’s taking it steadily with the gelding who has now won two from six starts.
“He was with Greg Bennett [at Scone] but didn’t quite shape up down there,” he said.
“He’s had plenty of chances before.”
In the first race of the day, the Oliver-steered Exilia Miss caused something of a boilover when the Armidale mare upset the odds-on favourite.
The Stirling Osland-trained mare tracked favourite Drawn To You into the short straight and overwhelmed the Sue Grills-prepared mare to win the Pig and Tinderbox Class 2 Handicap by a length.
Below The Belt was two and a quarter lengths away third with early pacemakers, Mr Malu and Jeewan next.
Grills thought her mare would lead and make it a tougher staying test but Hyosik Lee parked the mare behind the Sally Torrens-trained pair with Josh Oliver sitting quietly behind the favourite in the gun run.
Exilia Miss had won her maiden down south before she was sent north from Victoria to Osland’s blooming Armidale stable.
She was having her second run for him today.
“The 1300 metres was a bit too sharp for her the other day,” he said of her local debut at Armidale.
11th of 12 to Warwick Avenue in an Armidale benchmark 49, she appreciated the extra distance and the chance to sit back in close attendance before unleashing a winning burst.
“It was a good way to start the day,” Osland said.