MELBOURNE Cup heroes Mick Kinane and Vintage Crop moved firmly on course for a repeat November success in Australia with an excellent - and slightly unexpected success - at The Curragh on the weekend. Irish champion Kinane, due to return to Hong Kong in mid-October for another six-month stint with David Oughton, never resorted to the whip as Vintage Crop scored a half-length win over George Augustus in a 2,800-metre event. Vintage Crop's success also highlighted the task that awaits Hong Kong hero River Verdon at Flemington - but David Hill's superstar has an avid admirer in Kinane. ''I think he is the single most interesting entry for the race and I certainly hope he goes for it. There is still a tendency in some racing countries to write off horses from Hong Kong, but that comes largely from ignorance because they don't know the quality,'' said Kinane. ''In the case of River Verdon he is a quality horse in anyone's language, but I think a lot of it will come down to how the race is run. But I would be the last man to write off River Verdon's chances,'' said Kinane. The Irishman was understandably pleased about the brilliant Vintage Crop who wrote himself into the history of world racing with his spectacular and quite magnificent success last November. Vintage Crop had gone into The Curragh race off a fairly limited preparation with his main immediate aim a repeat success in next month's Irish St Leger - taking virtually the same route to Flemington as last year. Kinane, in fact, had felt pre-race that the horse would have it to do and was agreeably surprised. ''I certainly knew the race would bring him on but I felt that he might not be just ready for this one - but we all know he's a grand horse. I was never going to be hard on him and I certainly didn't have to be. When we straightened he just went right on with it - and I never touched him,'' said Kinane. As runner-up George Augustus is rated at 120 by the Irish Turf Club and there were 15 lengths back to third placed Aiybak (20-1), there was plenty of merit to this success. Reservations about Vintage Crop's chances saw him start at 2-1, easily the best price about the Classic winner in two seasons. The 6-4 favourite, Blue Judge, was literally beaten out of sight. Trainer Dermot Weld, who is hoping to have a suitable runner for the International Races in December, was not getting carried away by Vintage Crop's win: ''We are on course and he will certainly improve after this run. It was very encouraging for us all because he has had a problem or two this season,'' said Weld. Racing manager for owner Michael Smurfit, Dermot Cantillon, was delighted with the win and said: ''I think that he is basically an autumn horse and he is coming to himself again at just the right time for us. ''I understand he is 12-1 in the early betting market for the Melbourne Cup and the odds are probably fair.'' Given Saturday's facile win, Hong Kong punters with an inclination to bet on Australasia's greatest race might get on the phone.