Saturday, 29 October 2011
The Melbourne Cup favourite Americain is in "perfect" order for a repeat performance of his 2010 victory and his owner is looking forward to landing the big race trifecta.
The Australian-owned, French-trained galloper drew barrier 15 in Tuesday's $6 million race but connections are unconcerned, declaring the horse to be in better shape than he was 12 months ago.
"The barrier doesn't matter," part-owner Gerry Ryan said.
"The girls looking after him say he's perfect, in the best condition he's ever been in.
"If that's the case, we can't ask for any more."
The Victoria Racing Club committee adhered to the order of entry when it named the final 24-horse field, but its decision not to use its discretion to include the English horse Bauer is bound to lead to considerable debate.
The committee elected to include another English runner, Saptapadi
, a horse whose only win has been in a maiden, because he had won slightly more prizemoney in the past two years.
Bauer was second in the 2008 Melbourne Cup and has raced only four times since, the most recent an unlucky third in this month's Geelong Cup.
Americain retained favouritism after the barrier draw, easing slightly to $4.20, with his French compatriot Dunaden the second pick at $8 after drawing 13.
Americain's owners also own a 50 per cent share of Jukebox Jury, who drew ideally in barrier six and occupies the third line of Cup betting at $11 along with the locally-trained German import Lucas Cranach who will jump from barrier 11.
Ryan is also a part-owner of Drunken Sailor.
While Bauer, who was scratched from last year's Cup on race day, missed his last chance to run in the race, his stable will have two runners - Drunken Sailor (barrier eight) and Manighar (21).
Also double-handed in the Cup are English trainers Mark Johnston and Brian Ellison, local handlers Bart Cummings and Robert Hickmott and the Dubai-based Saeed bin Suroor.
Johnston prepares Jukebox Jury and Fox Hunt, the latter a $26 chance after drawing barrier 19, while Ellison has Saptapadi
and Moyenne Corniche in the race.
The inimitable Cummings has a live chance with Illo, another German import, who will start from the rails stall. His second runner Precedence drew alongside his stablemate.
Modun is the better fancied of the pair of bin Suroor's Godolphin runners at $26 and will start from barrier five with stablemate Lost In The Moment in barrier three.
The big shortener in betting is Niwot (barrier nine), winner of Saturday's Lexus Stakes (2500m), who was crunched from $101 to $17 after his Flemington win.