IT’S STAR BILLING FOR CUP

Weir’s mare puts Al­mandin to the sword

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - SPORT - GLENN MCFARLANE IN MEL­BOURNE

DAR­REN Weir booked another Mel­bourne Cup run­ner when his im­pres­sive mare Amelie’s Star yes­ter­day scored a ticket into the $6.2 mil­lion race, up­stag­ing last year’s Cup win­ner Al­mandin to win The Bart Cum­mings at Flem­ing­ton.

Amelie’s Star firmed with UBET to $14 for the Mel­bourne Cup, and $6 sec­ond favourite for the Caulfield Cup, although Weir said he was un­sure which path­way the mare would take be­fore the first Tues­day in Novem­ber.

“I don’t re­ally know,” Weir said of the six-year-old mare’s lead-up run be­fore the Mel­bourne Cup.

“But it’s a good prob­lem to have.

“She has had a beau­ti­ful prepa­ra­tion, she is go­ing to have to have a run be­tween now and then. We will just map out what we do, but she is very sound and has lots and lots of miles in her legs.

“We just need to get things right be­tween now and the Mel­bourne Cup.”

Weir, who won the race with Prince Of Pen­zance in 2015, could have a hand­ful of horses in the Mel­bourne Cup this year, in­clud­ing Ja­panese horse Ad­mire Deus.

He said Amelie’s Star ($4.60) was beaten by a bad bar­rier at her pre­vi­ous start in the Nat­u­ral­ism at Caulfield, and had the per­fect gate yes­ter­day, un­like Al­mandin ($2.20), who per­formed sound- ly in run­ning fourth, beaten 3.3 lengths, de­spite be­ing wide most of the way.

Grand­duke­of­tus­cany ($91) was sec­ond, while Weir’s Kell­storm ($51) per­formed well to fin­ish third.

“It is amaz­ing with bar­ri­ers, at Caulfield last start we drew wide, had to go back and just got into an im­pos­si­ble po­si­tion,” he said.

“To­day, from the bar­rier, we got the per­fect run and got the re­sult. Al­mandin got the per­fect run last start and to­day drew a bit wide and that’s a big part of rac­ing – the bar­ri­ers.”

Al­mandin’s jockey Damien Oliver said the horse “didn’t let go like he did last start”.

But the Robert Hick­mott­trained horse lost few ad­mir­ers, with UBET keep­ing him as Mel­bourne Cup favourite at $5.50.

KEEN Ar­ray has earned a pos­si­ble re­turn to Group 1 com­pany af­ter a nar­row vic­tory in the Gil­gai Stakes .

Trained by David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig, Keen Ar­ray ended a win­less streak dat­ing back to the Caulfield Stakes last year af­ter staving off Queens­lan­der Sold For Song and Mal­ibu Style.

“It’s a good time to have him in form and this opens up plenty of op­tions for him,” Dabernig said. “It has just taken a lit­tle bit to get him fit.”

PLENTY IN TANK: Amelie's Star pow­ers away to win The Bart Cum­mings at Flem­ing­ton. Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages

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