Imported stayer Harlem has stormed into Caulfield Cup calculations, booking a spot in the rich handicap with victory in the MRC Foundation Cup.
Harlem was one of a host of horses vying for the Caulfield Cup ballot exemption which was on offer to the winner of Saturday’s Group Three 2000m race at Caulfield.
With Dwayne Dunn in the saddle, Harlem ($16) enjoyed a trouble-free run in the first half of the field on the fence and then travelled up strongly approaching the home turn to be on the back of the leader Stampede and ready to pounce.
Dunn angled into the clear at the top of the straight and Harlem surged away over the final 200m to win by 3 lengths.
Harlem’s stablemate Samovare ($7.50) just pipped Stampede ($4.40) for second by a short half-head in the final strides.
‘‘His form over in Europe was over further, so it’s very exciting,’’ Harlem’s co-trainer Ben Hayes said.
‘‘Look out Caulfield Cup.’’
Harlem, who did his early racing in France and is in his second Australian preparation, has firmed from $26 into $13 for the $3 million Caulfield Cup on October 21 and has 51kg.
Racing Victoria’s handicapper has the option whether to issue a weight penalty for Saturday’s win.
Hayes believes Harlem is a genuine Cup hope.
‘‘All his form is over 2400m plus,’’ he said.
‘‘The way he won today, he won quite convincingly and they weren’t slouches in that field. So it was good to see him do it.’’
A crack at the Melbourne Cup is also on the spring radar for Harlem.
Harlem had eight starts in France, winning a Listed 2400m race in 2015 and was fourth in last year’s Prix Kergorlay (3000m) before being imported to Australia.