Superstorm (inside) beating Elephant at The Valley (Image: Racing Photos)
Superstorm has won a golden ticket into the Cox Plate and/or Caulfield Cup after his last-stride victory over previously unbeaten Kiwi galloper Elephant in a thrilling Group 2 Feehan Stakes at The Valley on Saturday.
The Bob Peters-owned galloper is now ballot free in both $5 million races next month after the win but trainer Danny O'Brien said a final decision will not come until after his next run in the G1 Underwood Stakes at Sandown in three weeks.
"I'll speak to Bob Peters and he'll decide where the horse will be best placed," O'Brien said.
"We really wanted to see how he went in the early part of the spring. I suspect the Underwood next run in three weeks to the 1800 metres. A big track like Sandown will suit too.
"It is only going to get harder. There's a lot of really nice horses going around in Sydney today, so we're pleased to get on the board today and looking forward to the rest of the spring with him."
Superstorm was awkwardly placed on the inside before the home turn, but when Streets Of Avalon drifted out on turning for home, he opened up a passage and Damien Oliver drove the horse through.
"We were confident the horse would run well but it always looked like it would be complicated and needed a D. Oliver special," O'Brien said.
"It was always going to be a difficult map for him. He hasn't got much gate speed, albeit he took a more prominent position today, but you definitely would have preferred to be three-wide peeling and getting momentum, particularly on a horse like Superstorm who builds so much through his finish.
"They had nowhere to go and as they straightened he's gone back to the fence, which hasn't been the place all day and he's still been able to lift him and get him over the line.
"I don't think there was much in his favour today and he's still got there. He's second-up still from nearly a year off, so the win was full of merit. He's a horse that has always raced at the top level and he hadn't won for a while, so it is great to get back winning with him."
WATCH: Superstorm's win
Starting at $6, Superstorm had a nose to spare over Elephant ($5.50 fav), with a long neck to The Chosen One ($10) in third place.
Oliver said he was not sure whether he would get a run as the field came to the home turn.
"I was hoping more than anything," he said. "He hasn't got a brilliant turn of foot, but he does build his momentum.
"It is probably not the ideal track here for him, but he's always shown good quality and when the gaps opened up, he was able to get through well."
Elephant's co-trainer David Browne didn't know whether to laugh or cry after the race.
"Oh, he ran so well but to be just beaten by such a margin makes it a bit tough," said Browne, who trains in partnership with his wife Emma-Lee. "But it proved he was right up to this level, so we'll just work out what we do next."
If Elephant had won, he would have been set solely for the Cox Plate but he won't make the race on his current record.
Browne said a race like the G1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) next month at Caulfield might be a good aim for the horse.
Third-placed The Chosen One showed he was in similar form to last spring with his eye-catching run, ahead of Nonconformist, who suffered a wide run throughout but stuck on well.