Bar­rier blow for Yu­catan

Sunday Herald Sun - - Cricket - LEO SCHLINK

YU­CATAN will have to defy Mel­bourne Cup his­tory and a Flem­ing­ton hoodoo af­ter draw­ing bar­rier 23, trig­ger­ing an im­me­di­ate bet­ting drift.

The clear-cut favourite since an em­phatic Her­bert Power Stakes romp, Yu­catan eased from $4.20 to $4.60 with TAB.

No horse has won from gate 23 since mud­lark Van der Hum in 1976, although Heart­break City came within a whisker of do­ing so two years ago when de­nied by Al­mandin.

Since bar­ri­ers were in­tro­duced to the Cup in 1924, Rim­fire in 1941 is the only other win­ner from 23.

Eight of the first nine horses in bet­ting are trained abroad.

James Cum­mings’ Avil­ius ($13) is the ex­cep­tion.

Nick Wil­liams, part-owner of Yu­catan, said the bar­rier is ir­rel­e­vant.

“I think bar­ri­ers are over­rated. It doesn’t worry me at all,” Wil­liams said. “There’s a 1000m run to the first turn to work it out. We’ll have a look at the race over the next few days and work out a plan.”

Lead­ing Aus­tralian hope Avil­ius drew per­fectly in bar­rier 11 as sev­eral of the raiders

were cast into wider gates.

Ai­dan O’Brien’s Rostropovich will start in 21, while sta­ble­mate The Cliffsofmoher drew ide­ally in nine.

Magic Cir­cle, trained by Ian Wil­liams, will jump from 17.

The trainer is un­con­cerned as the horse’s flam­boy­ant owner Dr Mar­wan Koukash re­peated his threat to strip to a G-string if the horse wins.

“Not if the horse wins, when he wins,” Koukash said.

A Prince Of Arran, who drew 20, es­caped penalty for win­ning the Lexus Hand­i­cap.

He will try to be­come the first horse since Shock­ing in 2009 to com­plete the dou­ble.

Mike Moroney de­clared Vengeur Masque, a $61 chance, his best hope of vic­tory in the Cup since Brew in 2000.

“He wasn’t suited by the Caulfield Cup (when ninth) and we think he’s go­ing re­ally well,” Moroney said.

Hugh Mor­ri­son is con­fi­dent Marmelo can im­prove on his ninth plac­ing in last year’s Cup af­ter draw­ing bar­rier 10.

“It won’t do him any harm to have some rain,” Mor­ri­son said.

Richard Freed­man-trained Auvray drew bar­rier one.

Nakeeta was the last horse to se­cure a place in the 24-run­ner field af­ter the de­ci­sion to with­draw Red Ver­don be­cause of hoof sore­ness.

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