Barrier blow for Yucatan
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.