MELBOURNE CUP SUMMARY
Racing editor Chris Scholtz’s summary of this year’s Melbourne Cup field.
An in depth Melbourne Cup audio preview between Chris Scholtz and Gary Crispe will be available at Racing and Sports tonight.
ACTIVATION: How much bad luck can one horse have in one spring? He has been unlucky not to have won both the AJC Metropolitan and Caulfield Cup but the postive is that because of it he will meet Tawqeet, the import that got all the breaks to win both those events, on 2kg better terms from their latest clash now that he has the burden of a 3kg penalty. He should have won the Metropolitan easily after tracking three wide and losing several lengths on the home turn when the winner was going forward. He gave Tawqeet 1kg and four lengths start from the 250m and ran him to a half length on the post. Again the ground he lost when taken away from the fence when in a winning position on the home turn in the Caulfield Cup was far more than his beaten margin of less than a length. Barrier 22 sets him a task but Michael Rodd is on a high after His Derby victory and he will be intent not to make the same mistakes that have cost him G1 wins on this horse at his past two starts. He has drifted in the market due to the view that he may not cope with 3200m but he is a well seasoned Zabeel five-year-old with the right profile to win. At $21 he is easily the best value against a number of horses who finished around him in the Caulfield Cup.
POP ROCK: Sticking with the solid fact that no race is a better guide to the Melbourne Cup than the Caulfield Cup, the seventh placing by this impressive Japanese stayer on Australian debut stands out as a great trial. The striking entire dwelt at the start but made continuous ground wide over the last 800m without being put under full pressure as he continually wanted to lay in and was blocked for galloping room for much of the last 400m. He was beaten 1.4 lengths with an obvious lot more to offer on the line. While evident that he can be a handful his rider Damien Oliver will have learned from the Caulfield experience and all connected with the horse are adamant he has improved in fitness and will revel on the bigger stretches at Flemington. This is a serious horse who has been given an exact preparation that left plenty in reserve from the Caulfield Cup.
GEORDIELAND: If confidence counts in a Melbourne Cup no trainer is exuding more self belief than Jamie Osborne. He cannot fault the way this stylish stayer has progressed since landing in Melbourne and it was impossible to question the grey’s condition on the track at Sandown on Sunday. He is well primed and the form behind him in the UK against Yeats stacks up with the big weight shift of 3kg in his favor from their clash in the Goodwood Cup over 3200m. He then reverted from wfa to the richest handicap race in Europe, the Ebor over 2800m, to finish a close fourth under 61.5kg in a field of 19 in what was only his second run for the Osborne stable after he was secured from France on the recommendation of his rider Frankie Dettori. Best weighted of the NH horses with all in order for him to put in the big run, more so if there is an affected track as he has by far the superior record on soft ground to any of the other internationals.
TAWQEET: He’s going for historic treble but there is no reason to question that the improvement he has shown to win his last two G1 starts in the AJC Metropolitan and Caulfield Cup will not continue here as he does appeal as an ideal 3200m horse. His English St Leger form identified him as a Cup horse at the start of the spring and it can be said winning his last two races has been a bonus ahead of what has been his major goal for three months. His 3kg penalty may be questioned as he did receive the right breaks to win those races but he is still carrying 3kg under wfa under the compressed weight scale and this still allows him the scope to find the ratings improvement he needs to win this race. Historically the penalty is not severe and the fact that four Caulfield Cup winners have won the Melbourne Cup in the last 15 years shows just how relevant the first leg has become in the modern era. Expect him to loom as the winner at some stage.
MAYBE BETTER: His surge of form has come at the right time and on the figures he has returned in his last two wins is set to give the race a big shake. Saab form has been dismissed in recent years but this could be the exception as he now reads as the horse to have beaten the handicapper with only 50kg after no penalty for Saturday’s win under 57kg. His proven liking for Flemington is another plus against horses who are yet to race here.
YEATS: Has the obvious class and form but history underlines his task under 59kg as he must become the highest weighted winner of the race since Rain Lover carried 60.5kg in 1969,and will also be the first original topweight to win since Comic Court in 1950. A known leader who will need to enjoy the right run with his tactics in the first half of the race certain to have a big bearing on the outcome.
DELTA BLUES: Powerful and dour Japanese stayer must be respected on his Caulfield Cup third but jockey untried under Australian conditions and is known to prefer longer breaks between his races. Has left nothing on the track in testing gallops and the camp has declared a preference for stablemate Pop Rock.
ON A JEUNE: Last year’s runner-up and while there is no Makybe Diva to worry him this is a higher rating field overall than he met 12 months ago. The positive is horses with good previous Melbourne Cup form rarely disappoint.
ZIPPING: Grinding win in the Moonee Valley Cup but the form is not strong enough to beat this field. Just a place.
DIZELLE: Oaks winner going better than her stablemates Railings and Headturner. Eye catchers in the Metropolitan and Caulfield Cup and can be promoted if its wet.
GLISTENING: Has been dismissed among the overseas contingent but it would be folly to under-estimate any horse prepared by Luca Cumani. Has picked up his track form this past week and a top ten finish is possible despite wide barrier. Take heart that nine of the last 20 winners started from barrier 14 or wider, including four from 20-24.
EFFICIENT: Exciting challenge for an obviously gifted racehorse. The reality of no 3YO winner in 65 years weighs heavily against him, but the biggest concern is a third run in 10 days for a young horse who only began racing in August against a field of well seasoned stayers who have been set for this race for months. With only 49kg he has the turn of foot to take it to them but Derby field rated lengths below the class of this line-up.
RAILINGS: His great staying form of last season has become fading memory.
HEADTURNER: An obvious early choice on his high rating AJC Derby win but has not impressed in the critical lead-ups. Needs a big turnaround.
SHORT PAUSE: Imported 8YO making up the numbers although stable says he can figure in the wet.
LAND ‘N STARS: Failed to flatter in the Caulfield Cup. Trainer is happy with his progress and confident he will improve over this trip but still doesn’t have the necessary speed for this race.
MAHTOUM: Sydney Cup winner but that form is a long way from what is needed here.
ICE CHARIOT: Struggling to get back to his Queensland Derby form.
KERRY O’REILLY: Honest Kiwi stayer but lacks the class.
ZABEAT: Wellington Cup winner with best 3200m record in this field but went poorly in the Saab. Tested on that form.
ART SUCCESS: Brisbane Cup winners don’t win this race but does keep finding the line. Not hopeless.
DEMERGER: Has an Adelaide Cup on her record but no going well enough to figure here.
MANDELA: Lifted his NZ ratings to win Geelong Cup. Needs to find a lot more this time.
DOLPHIN JO: VRC St Leger winner who keeps grinding. Won’t go fast enough in this.