North Melbourne Kangaroos premiership coach Denis Pagan to pull the pin on Melbourne Cup dream as Tralee Rose wins Geelong Cup

Wilde said all roads now point to the race that stops a nation.

Denis Pagan, trainer of Johnny Get Angry, after winning the 2020 Victoria Derby. Credit:Getty Images

“It is dawning on us now that we’ve got a genuine live hope in the Melbourne Cup,” he said.

“She’s a horse that we found in New Zealand – a yearling.

“You look at them and think ‘can this be the one?’

“She had her first start here at Geelong and to be coming back a bit over 12 months and win the Geelong Cup and being a live hope in the Melbourne Cup, if we can get her there in the one piece, it’s what you dream of.”


Three horses in the past 20 years have completed the Geelong Cup-Melbourne Cup double – Media Puzzle (2002), Americain (2010) and Dunaden (2011).

Those who finished behind Tralee Rose and are yet to claim their spot in the Melbourne Cup have one final opportunity to do so, via the Hotham Handicap on Derby day.

Geelong Cup runner-up Dr Drill is not in the Melbourne Cup picture, however Hasta La War, who finished third, was 41st in the order of entry on Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier, Kiwi three-year-old Tutukaka won the Geelong Classic over 2200 metres – one of the key VRC Derby trials.

Tony Noonan, representing trainer Tony Pike, said it was a thrill to help prepare the Tavistock gelding for the assignment.

“I’ve been good mates with Tony [Pike] and known his family for more than 30 years,” Noonan said.

“I was honoured for him to ring me but I’ve been under a bit of pressure, we haven’t been firing a shot.

“He’s a good trainer. He just knew what he wanted to do with this horse, and he’s upped the ante, and he’s got him spot on.

“Tony thought that, from that gate, it would be best getting some cover and Damian [Lane] gave him a lovely ride, and he got a lovely track into the race and hit the line impressively.

“He’s a lovely big horse, and he relaxed beautifully today, so he’s heading in the right direction [to the Derby].”

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