Raiders out to make their mark
IT may not prove a vintage year for Cup heroics, but the overseas raiders are circling again, and while the Caulfield Cup will invite a counterpunch from those runners trained here, the Melbourne Cup is shaping as yet another international carve-up.
At Caulfield, Sydney mare Unforgotten should head the “down under” fight, although internationals will still provide the measuring stick, either set for a smash-and-grab win over 2400m, or even more of a stepping stone into the 3200m at Flemington.
Pray all you like, but the overseas contingent again have a mortgage on this year’s Melbourne Cup.
Despite European stars Stradivarius and Vazirabad and last year’s 1-2 heroes Rekindling and Johannes Vermeer all turning their back, a new crop is ready to fire.
Here are my top five weighted chances in both Cups:
1. UNFORGOTTEN (52.5kg): High class fouryear-old Sydney mare who has come back strong this Spring and the one home-based stayer with the scope to turn back the invasion. Won the Group 1 ATC Oaks (2400m) in the Autumn and there’s a real sense of timing over this trip under a luxury weight.
2. CHESTNUT COAT ( 55.5kg): Flemington will be the main aim, but this bigstriding fiveyearold Japanese stallion can win under this w e i g h t first-up at the same trip he announc ed himself as a potential top stayer with back-to-back wins in January. Trained by the ultra-shrewd Yoshito Yahagi.
3. BEST SOLUTION ( 57.5kg): Beautifully-bred five-year- old stallion from the Newmarket base of Saeed Bin Suroor breathing all over this. Won his last three over similar trips, including the Group 1 German double GP Von Berlin and Preis Von Baden less than two weeks back, both times under 60kg.
4. KINGS WILL DREAM (53kg): The great Victorian hope from premier stable of Darren Weir who is on track after powering home in two return runs over unsuitable 1400m trips. Bolted in the Listed Mornington Cup in the Autumn and now steps into the big time. Jury still out on maturity, but at the weights must be included.
5. EMOTIONLESS (55kg): Has taken a lot of time and patience to get this six-yearold’s career fully running but he is ready to fulfil the promise. From the Charlie Appleby Newmarket yard in the UK, loved his Listed win at Newbury (2000m) under 60kg in July and still on the rise. This suits for an assault at big odds. terrific with close placings under big weights in both the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup and Goodwood Cup, each time narrowly rolled by top-notch Stradivarius. Trained by 2014 Melbourne Cup winner Andreas Wohler, gets in okay at the weights and if he travels well, will be a serious contender.
3. CROSS COUNTER ( 51kg): Another sparinglyraced four-year- old from the powerful UK Godolphin yard who wrote his credentials on the wall with a dominant win in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes at Goodwood before being edged out in the Group 2 Voltigeur Stakes at York. Stable has a big opinion and gets in on a postage stamp weight.
4. MUNTAHAA ( 54kg): Look out if this British grey gelding lines up. A brilliant winner of the Ebor Handicap under 61kg off a six-week break and he by renowned UK staying sire Dansili. A lightly-raced six-year- old who continues to improve over longer trips and the Cup will be ideal under a gift-wrapped weight.
5. CLIFFS OF MOHER ( 56kg): Named after the county Clare’s beautiful seacliffs Burren region, this Irish-bred five-year- old from the Aidan O’Brien juggernaut has been competitive in Group 1 and 2 company all year, despite mixing form. Well placed, considering he carried 4kg more in the Group 1 Eclipse and is now looking for two miles.