Runaway plots now rare post-Cup path

Many might be surprised to see Runaway engaged when they cast the eye over this Saturday's Sportsbet Pakenham Cup (2500m) field.

The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained four-year-old will be having his first start since finishing 19th, beaten a tick over 28 lengths, in last month's Melbourne Cup.

The surprise would come because of how rare it is to see Australian or New Zealand-trained horses campaign on more than a month after contesting the world's premier 3200-metre race.

Horses often push on to either the Zipping Classic or Sandown Cup 11 days after the Melbourne Cup, as Ventura Storm, Who Shot Thebarman and Vengeur Masque did this year, but it's rare to race on any longer.

It wasn't that long ago it was commonplace. As recently as 2009, four Melbourne Cup runners had a start in December.

Newport (10th in the Melbourne Cup) headed to WA, contesting the Cox Stakes (December 19) en route to the Perth Cup, Gallions Reach (13th) headed home to New Zealand for a crack at the Avondale Cup (December 2), Ista Kareem (15th) used the Lord Stakes (December 26) as a launching pad to the Hobart Cup and Spin Around also contested the Avondale Cup before winning at Te Rapa on December 19.

Another, Zavite (19th), trialled midway through December before contesting the Tatt's Cup at Randwick on New Year's Day.

The year before, Guyno came out of the Melbourne Cup to win the Perth Cup, via the Cox Stakes, and in 2006 there were also four Australasian horses who campaigned on in December.

Red Ruler raced several times in New Zealand throughout December and January after finishing 19th in the 2010 Melbourne Cup, but it has been six years since a horse trained in these parts ran in Australia or New Zealand in December.

That was Unusual Suspect, who won the Werribee Cup on December 16 after finishing 21st in the 2012 Melbourne Cup, won by Green Moon.

The only Australian-trained Melbourne Cup horse to have started in December since 2012 was Lindsay Park's Criterion, who ran ninth in the Hong Kong Cup (2000m) after finishing third in Prince Of Penzance's Melbourne Cup.

Criterion is one of many horses to have headed to Hong Kong off the back of Melbourne Cup campaigns, with Dunaden (2011) and Red Cadeaux (2012) both winning the Hong Kong Vase (2400m) and placing in that race on at least one other occasion.

Americain also finished third in the Vase after winning the 2010 Melbourne Cup.

Those performances are proof that horses can perform well in December off Melbourne Cup preparations and while Runaway is not in the league of Americain, Dunaden or Red Cadeaux, the Listed Pakenham Cup is a few rungs below the G1 Hong Kong Vase.

One thing Runaway does have in common with Americain and Dunaden is that he won the G3 Geelong Cup (2400m) the start contesting the Melbourne Cup.

The son of Manhattan Rain will carry 59kg - most of which will be made up of Stephen Baster, who also rode the gelding in the Melbourne Cup - and they will start from barrier nine in the 13-horse field.

Runaway is a $13 chance in BetEasy's Pakenham Cup market, which is headed by last-start Zipping Classic runner-up Dal Harraild ($2.60), with Ballarat Cup winner Kiwia on the $4.60 second line.

Pakenham Cup field