11/04/2008 12:00AM

Viewed gives trainer 12th Melbourne Cup


MELBOURNE, Australia – They came from near and far for the 148th Melbourne Cup on Tuesday at Flemington Racecourse, but the race trophy stayed put when Australia’s legendary trainer Bart Cummings landed his record 12th Cup, as Viewed nosed out European invader Bauer in a thrilling end to the two-mile race.

Viewed, a 45-1 longshot in the field of 21, hit the front at midstretch and was fully extended to hold off Bauer, who closed from sixteenth in the final three furlongs. Australia jockey Blake Shinn rode the winner, who was timed in 3:20.40 over a course rated good. C’est La Guerre finished two lengths farther back in third.

A crowd of 107,280 attended the Melbourne Cup, and though Viewed was an outsider, the win was popular with the locals, who cheered wildly for Cummings when he accepted his trophy.

Cummings, 80, has been an icon in Australian racing for 50 years. He ran his first horse in the Melbourne Cup in 1958, and scored his first win in 1965. He added 10 more through 1999, when Rogan Josh won, but had not had a horse finish better than 10th since then. This Cup win was his 250th in a Group 1 race.

“After four or five I thought, ‘It couldn't get any better than this,’ but this might be,” Cummings said in a post-race press conference.

Cummings got choked up during presentations in the winner’s circle following the race, but made light of it later.

“I have hay fever,” he said.

Viewed had just raced on Saturday, finishing last of 11 in a 1 1/4-mile race that produced three runners who came back in the Cup just three days later. Although Viewed, 5, had won 7 of 23 starts, he had not finished better than seventh in his last four races.

“I don't think we’ve seen the best of this horse, by a longshot,” Cummings said.

Viewed is owned by Dato Tan Chin Nam, who has owned all or part of four Cup winners. Cummings said they first met at a bar in Adelaide.

The Cup was a spectacular failure for Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien, who had three runners. But in an inexplicable scenario, his three horses – Alessandro Volta, Septimus, and Honolulu – set off at a crackling pace, leaving their 18 rivals well back through the first 1 1/8 miles of the race. The pace took its toll, and the O’Brien runners faltered badly, finishing in three of the final four spots.

It was the Luca Cumani-trained Bauer who came closest to winning it for the Europeans. Cumani’s other runner, Mad Rush, went off the favorite and wound up seventh.