Prize­money in­crease has big sta­bles talk­ing

The Sportsman Special Issue - - News -

Gary Crispe, head of Time­form Aus­tralia and the CEO of Rac­ing and Sports Pty Ltd, gives SPORTS­MAN’s read­ers an early in­sight as to how he sees the Cups un­fold­ing

THERE seems lit­tle doubt the re­cent ma­jor in­creases in prize­money for both the Caulfield and Mel­bourne Cups has achieved its first goal – in­creased num­bers of over­seas nom­i­na­tions.

With the pot for the Caulfield Cup up by two mil­lion and the Mel­bourne Cup by one mil­lion, it is no won­der that both races have at­tracted the at­ten­tion of ma­jor sta­bles from abroad.

Per­haps more than ever this year both races are dom­i­nated by Euro­pean-bred stay­ers, ei­ther lo­cally trained or com­ing from over­seas sta­bles.

That should come as no sur­prise as it has be­come com­mon prac­tice that the ma­jor stay­ing races in Aus­tralia are won by north­ern hemi­sphere-bred gal­lop­ers pur­chased by Aus­tralian own­ers – both the Dar­ren Weir and Chris Waller sta­bles have per­fected the art, with oth­ers now quickly fol­low­ing suit.

This is not sur­pris­ing as there are op­por­tu­ni­ties for those gal­lop­ers to earn sig­nif­i­cant prize­money in coun­tries like Aus­tralia, es­pe­cially dur­ing the spring.

As has been the case in pre­vi­ous years, the high­est rated run­ners in the Cups are mostly Euro­pean but there are some ex­cep­tions no­tably Ace High and Un­for­got­ten.

2015 Mel­bourne Cup-win­ning trainer Dar­ren Weir has 28 nom­i­na­tions for the Mel­bourne Cup and 25 for Caulfield while Chris Waller has 24 and 21 re­spec­tively – a big in­crease on his num­bers last year.

Both Chris Waller and Dar­ren Weir will be chas­ing their first Caulfield Cup win while Weir al­ready has a Mel­bourne Cup on the mantle­piece.

It is hard to be­lieve that be­tween them, the two top train­ers in Aus­tralia have won just one of the big two stay­ing prizes on the Aus­tralian Turf.

Waller has had 16 run­ners in the Caulfield Cup – the clos­est he has come to win­ning was fifth place with Royal De­scent in 2013 while Weir’s record looks a lit­tle bet­ter with just three run­ners to date – two of those run­ners also fin­ish­ing fifth, Real Love (2016) and Hu­mi­dor (2017).

Weir, who won the 2015 Mel­bourne Cup with Prince Of Pen­zance, has had eight Cup run­ners in to­tal for a win­ner, a sec­ond and two fourths. Waller has been rep­re­sented by 15 Cup run­ners for just one plac­ing, Who Shot The­bar­man third in 2015.

Un­like pre­vi­ous years, I have found the 2018 re­newals of both Cups dif­fi­cult to line up as the nom­i­na­tions for both races present, on Time­form rat­ings, as a fairly even con­test.

This far out it is hard to know ex­actly who will line up from the ma­jor over­seas sta­bles.

For ex­am­ple, cham­pion trainer Ai­dan O’Brien who went so close to tak­ing the Mel­bourne Cup last year, only to be up­staged by son Joseph when Rekin­dling nailed Jo­hannes Ver­meer right on the line, has a record 12 run­ners nom­i­nated, and any­one of them would be a se­ri­ous con­tender.



ead­ing trainer Dar­ren Weir is dom­i­nat­ing rac­ing in Victoria but this year he has an ex­cel­lent chance of rid­ing his luck all-the-way to his first win in the Caulfield Cup win with for­mer Euro­pean gal­loper Kings Will Dream.

Weir has not had much luck at Caulfield, sta­ble stal­wart Hu­mi­dor be­ing a case in point last year.

To date, Weir has been se­lec­tive in send­ing horses to the Caulfield Cup – just three to date, but Kings Will Dream has been in im­pres­sive form ex­hibit­ing an up­ward spi­ralling Time­form rat­ings pro­file which, right now, makes him the horse to beat.

Kings Will Dream was pur­chased out of the UK af­ter just three starts win­ning a maiden over 1614m at Pon­te­fract in July

last year be­fore join­ing Weir where he was an in­stant suc­cess rack­ing up five con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries go­ing from a Bench­mark 64 at War­rnam­bool over 1200m to the Listed Morn­ing­ton n Cup over 2400m – a race that guar­an­teed d him a spot at Caulfield.

Spelled af­ter Morn­ing­ton, - Kings Will ill Dream had pro­gressed d his Time­form rat­ing by 35 pounds in those five wins. How­ever, in two runs back from a spell, he has con­tin­ued the trend with two out­stand­ing ef­forts at weight-for-age over un­suit­able dis­tances.

The first of those was in the Group 2 PB Lawrence Stakes over 1400m where he fin­ished a close-up fourth be­hind Show­time af­ter a slow start. Then last start in the Group 1 Mem­sie Stakes he again caught the eye flash­ing late from near last on the turn to go down in a three­way photo be­hind sta­ble mate Hu­mi­dor, beaten a head into third place, run­ning to a new Time­form 122 ca­reer peak rat­ing.

Right now, it is very hard to find fault the lightly raced Kings Will Dream who has won six of his 10 starts.

The die was cast af­ter his com­mand­ing win over the Cup trip of 2400m in the Morn­ing­ton Cup, so he ap­pears to tick all the right boxes, even at this early stage.

Cham­pion Syd­ney trainer Chris Waller will be rep­re­sented by the classy four-year- old mare and ATC Oaks win­ner Un­for­got­ten who, last start, burst into Cup cal­cu­la­tions af­ter im­pres­sively win­ning the Group 2 Chelms­ford Stakes at WFA over

1600 mat Royal Rand­wick Rdikatthh erse condd run back from a spell.

Four-year- olds are the most suc­cess­ful age group in the Caulfield Cup with the two most sig­nif­i­cant lead-up races be­ing the Aus­tralian Derby and ATC Oaks.

Four-year- old mares have an ex­cel­lent record in the Caulfield Cup gen­er­ally run­ning well, even if not al­ways win­ning.

Jameka was suc­cess­ful in 2016 which came on the back of South­ern Speed’s 2011 vic­tory.

Rising Ro­mance in 2014 had won the ATC Oaks then went on to be just beaten by Ad­mire Rakti at Caulfield the fol­low­ing spring, Lu­cia Valentina (2014 2nd and 3rd), Royal De­scent (2013 Won and 5th), Dear Demi (2013 2nd and 3rd), Daf­fodil (2009 Won and 4th) and Re­pub­lic Lass (2002 Won and 3rd) are other ex­am­ples of their suc­cess.

Even though you have to go back to 1996 (Arc­tic Scent) to find the last four-year- old mare to win a Caulfield Cup af­ter com­ing out of the ATC Oaks, they do none-the-less per­form well as the stats show.

The av­er­age win­ning Time­form rat­ing of the last three four-year- old mares to win the Caulfield Cup is 118, although the most re­cent — Jameka in 2016 rated 121.

In 2013, third placed Dear Demi rated 118 and fifth placed Royal De­scent rated 119 — both fig­ures ex­actly in line with their VRC and ATC Oaks wins re­spec­tively.

In 2014, both Rising Ro­mance and Lu­cia Valentina come from the ATC Oaks with Time­form rat­ings of 116p, with the prom­ise of more to come – sim­i­lar to Jameka last year.

Both Rising Ro­mance and Lu­cia Valentina were beaten into sec­ond and third place re­spec­tively by Ja­panese stayer Ad­mire Rakti, run­ning to Time­form rat­ings a cou­ple of pounds above their ATC Oaks ef­forts.

Gust Of Wind went into the 2015 Caulfield Cup with a Time­form rat­ing of 114, a cou­ple of pounds un­der the av­er­age but fin­ished fourth to Mon­go­lian Khan.

Last year ATC Oaks and NZ Oaks win­ner Bon­neval was Time­form rated 119 off her Rand­wick wick suc­cess but failed to im­press pres at Caulfield af­ter an in­ter­rupted inte prepa­ra­tion and in­jury. inju

It is sig­nif­i­cant that Un­for­got­ten for also has a master Time­form Tim rat­ing of 119 off her he em­phatic Oaks win – a fig­ure fig that if re­peated at Caulfield, Ca his­tor­i­cally at least, le puts her right in the mix. m

Last start when win­ning the th Chelms­ford Stakes she ran r to a Time­form rat­ing of o 117 with the prom­ise of more m to come, in­di­cat­ing Waller has her right on track.

Three Thre years ago, classy New Zealand Z l stayer Mon­go­lian Khan gave a much-needed boost to the Aus­tralian Derby – Caulfield Cup dou­ble win­ning both in fine style – the first horse to do so since Sky Heights in 1999.

Re­cent his­tory shows that good per­for­mances in the ATC Derby trans­late to a good per­for­mances in the Caulfield Cup.

Which brings us to 2017 Victoria Derby win­ner and 2018 ATC Derby run­ner up Ace High who will be out to em­u­late Descarado’s 2010 win at Caulfield.

Ace High was an im­pres­sive Victoria Derby win­ner how­ever that race has al­ways been a hoodoo for the Caulfield Cup with just Phar Lap and Elvstroem com­plet­ing the dou­ble in around 90 years.

With the 2018 ATC Derby win­ner Levendi out of play due to in­jury, Ace High who went down nar­rowly to him, is left to fly the flag.

Af­ter fail­ing first up in the Winx Stakes, he bounced back with a much im­proved run when sec­ond in the Group 2 Chelms­ford Stakes be­hind Un­for­got­ten in­di­cat­ing a re­turn to form and with im­prove­ment to come.

The global rac­ing pow­er­house Godol­phin has en­joyed mixed spring suc­cess in Aus­tralia, but in 2016 UK re­tained trainer for the op­er­a­tion Char­lie Ap­pleby

won a Gee­long Cup, Bendigo Cup, Lexus and Queen El­iz­a­beth Stakes be­fore a fourth in the Mel­bourne Cup mak­ing it one their best ever years re­sults, while Hart­nell un­der lo­cal Head trainer at that time John O’Shea was a gal­lant third in the Mel­bourne Cup.

Godol­phin’s record in the Caulfield Cup is quite good with one win­ner and three top four plac­ings from just nine run­ners but Ap­pleby has plans to im­prove on that in 2018.

This sea­son in Europe, Ap­pleby has been in great form win­ning the English Derby with Masar as well as a string of other fea­ture races.

Of course Godol­phin has al­ready had their fa­mous blue silks car­ried across the line first in the 2008 Caulfield Cup when All The Good, un­der Ker­rin McEvoy, came with a late burst to give Saeed bin Suroor and Sheikh Mo­hammed their first Group 1 suc­cess down un­der.

But it is not hard to un­der­stand Ap­pleby’s de­sire to make his pres­ence felt on the big stage in Aus­tralia – some­thing he reg­u­larly talks about aiming his horses at dur­ing the English sum­mer sea­son.

Ap­pleby has made a con­scious decision to send a small team down to Aus­tralia early, specif­i­cally for Caulfield, then fol­lowed by a larger con­tin­gent later. Clearly he is look­ing to go one bet­ter in the Caulfield Cup than the sec­ond plac­ing by Scot­tish in 2016 – his only run­ner in the race thus far.

Emo­tion­less and Folkswood are his Caulfield Cup horses and while Folkswood was here last year fin­ish­ing third in the Cox Plate, it is the higher Time­form rated Emo­tion­less that I pre­fer this year.

Emo­tion­less is an un­usual horse in that for a five-year- old he has raced just 10 times for three wins – al­ready be­ing a Group 2 win­ner at two.

How­ever, at three, he was plagued with is­sues that cur­tailed his cam­paign to just three runs. Early in his prepa­ra­tion at four, he was still strug­gling but late in 2017 he showed a re­turn to top form with plac­ings in Mey­dan, specif­i­cally in the Group 2 Dubai City Gold over 2400m be­hind classy stay­ers Prize Money and Post­poned.

This sea­son he has raced just twice for a sec­ond plac­ing to Ben­batl over 1800m in Mey­dan fol­lowed by a strong win at New­bury in the Listed Bet365 Stakes over 2011m run­ning to a Time­form rat­ing of 120p.

Emo­tion­less will most likely be fresh up in the Caulfield Cup, how­ever, he per­forms well fresh and looks an ideal Caulfield Cup chance.

Team Wil­liams, who have made an art form out of win­ning the Mel­bourne Cup, have sev­eral run­ners nom­i­nated at Caulfield but I am lean­ing to­wards The Taj Ma­hal to give them a sec­ond win in the race, Fawkner in 2014 be­ing their only suc­cess to date.

A for­mer Ai­dan O’Bri­en­trained stayer came to Team Wil­liams last year af­ter fin­ish­ing un­placed at Leop­ard­stown but ended his cam­paign with a win in the Group 2 Zip­ping Clas­sic over 2400m de­feat­ing 2015 Mel­bourne Cup win­ner and sta­ble­mate Al­mandin.

This year he seems to be fol­low­ing the “typ­i­cal” Wil­liams Cups pro­gramme – brief Au­tumn cam­paign then spelled for the Spring.

The Taj Ma­hal failed to fire in

the Aus­tralian Cup in March and was not seen again un­til Moonee Val­ley in the Har­rolds Hand­i­cap over 2040m – a race they have pre­vi­ously used with other sta­ble gal­lop­ers pre­pared for r the Cups, Al­mandin be­ing - one of those.

Un­der the stead­ier of f 62.5kg, The Taj Ma­hal al was im­pres­sive storm­ing mhome from the rear to be beaten less than two lengths.

That ef­fort will have sharp­ened him up and the 2400m of the Caulfield Cup looks ideal for him.



he Mel­bourne Cup shapes as an in­trigu­ing con­test es­pe­cially as the Godol­phin gal­lop­ers ap­pear to dom­i­nate early bet­ting de­lib­er­a­tions.

The Mel­bourne Cup is one race on the global rac­ing cal­en­dar that has es­caped Godol­phin. They have gone close on oc­ca­sions but never been suc­cess­ful.

From 26 run­ners to date, they have man­aged three sec­ond plac­ings, two thirds and a fourth.

The Godol­phin as­sault on the Mel­bourne Cup started with Faith­ful Son in 1998 then Cen­tral Park ran sec­ond in 1999, fol­lowed by Give The Slip sec­ond in 2001, Bee­keeper third in 2002, Crime Scene sec­ond in 2009 and lastly Hart­nell third in 2016.

How­ever, this year there seems to be a real pur­pose to Godol­phin’s bid to snare the fea­ture.

Although it has not been tried many times, there is a view abroad that the north­ern hemi­sphere-bred three-year- olds seem to be very well placed in the Mel­bourne Cup, some­thing that first came to light when Mahler was a close up third to Ef­fi­cient in 2007.

Then last year Team Wil­liams were suc­cess­ful with handy three-year- old Rekin­dling com­ing off a luck­less ef­fort in the Bri­tish St Leger Stakes at Don­caster.

Such a the­ory is not without foun­da­tion and while at this stage it is not known if any St Leger run­ners from Don­caster will line up on the first Tues­day in Novem­ber, Char­lie Ap­pleby has al­ready ear­marked pow­er­ful three-year- old Cross Counter, who by­passes the St Leger, as his likely can­di­date for Mel­bourne.

Ap­pleby will dodge the St Leger with Cross Counter al­ready com­mit­ting sta­ble­mate Old Per­sian to that race, the pair hav­ing fought out a stir­ring duel in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes over 2385m at York last time out.

Should Old Per­sian’s ef­fort in the St Leger be as ex­pected, then it will add fur­ther weight to Cross Counter’s Cup bid.

Prior to Great Voltigeur Cross Counter had eas­ily ac­counted for Ep­som Derby run­ner up Dee Ex Bee in the Group 3 Gor­don Stakes over 2412m at Good­wood – that is prob­a­bly as good a trial for the Cup as you can get.

Cross Counter has raced just seven times for four wins and is still very much on an up­ward Time­form rat­ings spi­ral. He cur­rently sits with a Time­form rat­ing of 123 – two pounds above the level Rekin­dling ran off in last year’s Mel­bourne Cup vic­tory.

The sec­ond of Ap­pleby’s Mel­bourne Cup chances is the highly promis­ing Ha­mada, a four-year- old geld­ing from Cape Cross out of a King­mambo mare – bred to get 3200m.

Ha­mada has won five of his seven starts and just keeps rais­ing the bar.

Af­ter a maiden win that fi­nalised his 2016 cam­paign, Ha­mada

was wa not seen un­til 2018 where wh he be­gan a four­run ru win­ning streak from as many starts, that now leads le him to Mel­bourne for the th Cup.

Ha­mada has won all of his last five starts, four of those com­ing in the an­ti­clock­wise c di­rec­tion of Mel­bourne’s M Cup and lift­ing his Time­form rat­ing to 118p, up some 24 pounds from hi his maiden win in 2016.

Last start Ha­mada looked ev­ery inch a se­ri­ous Mel­bourne Cup con­tender win­ning the Group 3 Ge­of­frey Freer Stakes over 2671m at New­bury draw­ing clear in the fi­nal fur­long to win de­ci­sively by over two lengths.

Prior to that win, Ha­mada has pro­gressed through the hand­i­cap ranks dom­i­nat­ing on sev­eral oc­ca­sions,

While an­other step up in class is re­quired, Ha­mada has all the hall­marks of a lead­ing Mel­bourne Cup hope.

For­merly trained by Jes­sica Har­ring­ton, Ir­ish trained stayer Torce­dor now un­der the care of 2014 Mel­bourne Cup win­ning trainer An­dreas Wohler is a late comer into cal­cu­la­tions af­ter be­ing re­cently pur­chased by Aus­tralian in­ter­ests.

A lightly raced six-year- old Fast­net Rock geld­ing, Torce­dor has won five of his 20 starts from 2011m to 3208m and was placed third in the Group 1 As­cot Gold Cup (4014m) this year be­hind cham­pion UK stayer Stradi­var­ius and French gal­loper Vazirabad beaten less than a length.

On that oc­ca­sion he was with the speed through­out and took the lead 600m from home only to be run down late. It was a very strong stay­ing ef­fort earn­ing him a Time­form rat­ing of 123.

40 days later he re­pro­duced the same Time­form rat­ing when again nar­rowly beaten by Stradi­var­ius in the Group 1 Good­wood Cup over 3218m.

De­spite not be­ing seen since Good­wood, Wohler knows what it takes to win the big one and there is no ques­tion he has a strong stayer on his hands.

It is not known which horse, if any, Ai­dan O’Brien will bring down for the Cup. So I am guess­ing a lit­tle, sug­gest­ing Flag Of Hon­our would be a suit­able type for Flem­ing­ton.

O’Brien who went so close last year with Jo­hannes Ver­meer now knows what type of horse to bring for the Cup and Flag Of Hon­our ap­peals as suit­able.

The three-year- old son of cham­pion stal­lion Galileo has raced just nine times for four wins at dis­tances rang­ing from 1408m to 2816m and his prepa­ra­tion has an un­canny like­ness to that of Rekin­dling last year.

Last start Flag Of Hon­our was too strong for older ri­vals in the Group 3 Ir­ish St Leger Trial over 2816m at the Cur­ragh run­ning to a Time­form peak rat­ing of 120 – Rekin­dling won the same race run­ning to 121.

But prior to the St Leger Trial both horses had won the Cur­ragh Cup – Flag Of Hon­our rated 112 whereas Rekin­dling ran slightly higher at 115, but as we have seen in their sub­se­quent win both horses are at the same stage of their prepa­ra­tions are about the same level.

It will be in­ter­est­ing to see what O’Brien does with Flag Of Hon­our. Rekin­dling went on to run an un­lucky fourth in the English St Leger be­fore com­ing to Mel­bourne. Flag Of Hon­our could fol­low the same path or maybe tar­get the Ir­ish St Leger. Time will tell but he ap­peals as a def­i­nite Cup can­di­date.

I am hav­ing a bit of a stab in the dark for my last main chance for the Mel­bourne Cup in Finche.

Part- owned in Aus­tralian in­ter­ests is a good start, but hav­ing cham­pion French trainer An­dre Fabre putting the pol­ish on is no great dis­ad­van­tage ei­ther.

By for­mer cham­pion gal­loper Frankel, four-year- old stal­lion Finche has raced just seven times for three wins but has raced against some of the best horses in Europe and ac­quit­ted him­self well.

It is by no means cer­tain Finche will come to Aus­tralia, but if he does, I be­lieve he will per­form very well.

Kings Will Dream. Caulfield Cup pre­dic­tions Kings Will Dream Un­for­got­tenAce High Emo­tion­less The Taj Ma­hal

The Taj Ma­hal.

Cross Counter. Pic: Getty Images. Mel­bourne Cuppre­dic­tions Cross Counter Ha­mada Torce­dor Flag Of Hon­ourFinche

Getty Images. Ha­mada. Pic:

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