Horsham-based horse trainer Paul Preusker is eyeing off a spot in Australia's biggest horse race of the year after a stunning result at the Morphettville race meet on Monday.
Preusker's horse Surprise Baby raced away in the day's headline race to comfortably win the Adelaide Cup and bring it one step closer to qualifying for the Melbourne Cup's headline race.
Suprise Baby was heavily backed in the lead up to the 3200 metre race and gained favouritism with the bookies just prior to the jump.
The four-year-old gelding lived up to the billing with an impressive performance, taking the win by 1.7 lengths.
Preusker said it was a pleasing performance from the lightly-raced horse and was a stellar reward for the effort put in by his team.
"It was bloody good for me and really good for the guys back home that do all the real hard work," Preusker said.
Surprise Baby had scarcely competed in long distance races in the build up, more often competing in events such as the 1200 metre race it won at the Horsham Cup in October 2018.
The horse was also scratched just prior to its last outing at a 2500m race at Moonee Valley earlier in March.
Preusker said the distance was his main concern before the race.
"The one real question was if it would get too excited and pull himself down," Preusker said.
"3200 is a long way to go if they get upset and don't settle in. The only question was if it would settle in, but it did that and looked comfortable for the whole race."
Surprise Baby is now just one step away from solidifying itself a place at the Melbourne Cup after the win.
"We've passed a couple of the ballet conditions, ticked most of the boxes. The next one is early May in a ballet three sort of race, and if we win that we're pretty much in," Preusker said.
"We've still got plenty of time before then so we'll just look after the horse and make sure it is in good shape.
"He's pretty raw, there's a lot of improvement in him yet, but it has always been about chipping away and trying to qualify for the Melbourne Cup.
"We'll certainly be trying to get him in there. That is the goal heading forward now."
Preusker said it was a thrill to have a horse competing for a place on racing's biggest day of the year.
"Yeah it's really exciting for everyone involved," he said. "It doesn't happen every day and that's what it is all about is to get the ones like this coming through. It is pretty special."