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Caulfield Cup preview

The richest 2400m handicap in the world deserves an in-depth look from me, and with massive exotic pools expected, it's not just about the major prize...

AMERICAIN - star galloper who revels in being trained by his French master, not the failed experiment with D.Hayes. Supposedly better suited at Flemington over two miles, ignore him at your peril despite the gate.

DUNADEN - reigning Melb Cup champion who has focused more of WFA 2400m contests this season. If connections thought he had even the slightest chance in the Arc, then he has to be respected here, even from the car park barrier.

JAKKALBERRY - trackwork reports have been glowing, drawn in the middle of the field, looks a great chance. Has been well beaten by Dunaden at WFA but gets some weight relief and better gate. But the jockey concerns me, Caulfield is not a place for a first-time jockey in a high pressure race. Drawn next to December Draw, will he get cover or be stuck at the head of the three-wide line? Can't win if it's the latter.

WINCHESTER - old American stayer drawn out wide with little option other than dropping out, hoping for a cart around the field and a chance to run the leaders down late. Can't see it happening.

DECEMBER DRAW - prohibitive fav for this race last year (weakest renewal in memory) but broke down in running. Up in weight and form not quite as good (perhaps targeted at this race this time) which are blackmarks, but with only a handful of on-pace runners in the field, he might be able to slip in behind and get the box seat.

VOILA ICI - import who loves to lead and should cross easily before being challenged by Glencadam Gold. Some trends geek will probably bring out the pointless stat that grey horses don't win this race very often - hardly a bloody surprise considering how few of them there are in the general horse population! Last two runs have been very strong, and expecting race to suit those up front

SOUTHERN SPEED - scratched

SANAGAS - American import yet to show anything in Aus. Ideal gate but not sure he has the zip to make use of it. Connections would hope he shows something to press on towards Flemington.

GLENCADAM GOLD - has been dominating from the front in NSW in weaker fields, including the Metropolitan last time. This is probably the strongest Caulfield Cup in decades, but there's not much pressure up front - it's quite possible he'll get across easily from gate 21, sit outside Voila Ici and they control the race. If he has enough left in the tank to run 34.7 for the last 600, it will take an exceptional horse to beat him!

(MY) QUEST FOR PEACE - beat Dunaden at Newmarket in May (both first-up) then finished a long, long way behind the same horse at Royal Ascot (WFA) on an apparently unsuitable wet track. Not so keen on his two wins since then at Goodwood - it's a quirky track, small fields and the class was well below these (I don't believe Gatewood handled the track that day as a cross-reference). Should get a cheap run from gate two, but I'll be buggered if I'll ever back Corey Brown again in a big field staying race at Caulfield after last week!

NIWOT - Sydney Cup winner earlier this year, probably the best Australian-bred stayer in the race. Finished 008 his last three runs but returning decent closing sectionals. If he can make use of gate 6 and sit better than midfield, he is a decent roughie in the race.

LIGHTS OF HEAVEN - home track, best trainer/jockey pairing in the land, drawn ideally to sit just behind decent pace, smashed them in the Brisbane Cup (G2, same dist, horrible draw), everything in this campaign has pointed toward this race.

SECRET ADMIRER - fans of this horse will tell you her campaign has been aimed at this race, but she keeps being strong in the market and finishing off nicely without winning. I think she's won something like one from her last 17 starts. Horses like her buy bookies flash cars!

SNEAK A PEEK - another Italian import now in the Moody stable. Last couple of runs have been promising but horses than flash home late are rarely suited in the Caulfield Cup. Ridden by 'Group 1' Glenn Boss but will need an unexpected hot pace up front to be in the finish.

ALCOPOP - 8yo from unfashionable stable who was a huge run last week behind Ocean Park flashing home late off a slow pace. Will need plenty of luck if he's going to leave it late as usual. Good luck to John Kelton and his mates in the syndicate, but I don't see it happening.

MOUDRE - went awful second up after 18 month break, which can happen. Not the formline you want to support stepping up to a Cup.

FOLDING GEAR - the wildcard local with different formlines to the rest. Drawn well, ridden by a very underrated local jockey, outstanding record at Caulfield and should sit just ahead of midfield. Runs decent closing sectionals without a big turn-of-foot, more of a grinder, and that might be what's necessary if he can get clear down the side and put the pressure on. Hasn't run 2400m before but doesn't bother me too much. Easter Cup replay.

ZABEELIONAIRE - SA Derby winner who didn't have much luck last start in the Turnbull Stakes, trainer is flying at the moment, winning the G1 Thousand Guineas during the week. Drawn the inside fence, will need luck to scrape through on the paint but not out of it.

SABRAGE - VRC Derby placegetter last year and has done sweet FA since. I'd be pretty annoyed if I owned one of the horses he kept out of the field.

Verdict
I am heavily biased towards the speed here. Without a great deal of pressure on, I reckon it will be very tough for the backmarkers to get into the race.

Lights Of Heaven
Folding Gear
Glencadam Gold
December Draw

And my trifectas will look something like this:

12,17 x 2,3,5,6,9,10,12,15,17 x 2,3,5,6,9,10,11,12,14,15,17,18

$80 for a 50c unit.

The race will be screened live on ATR at 0605 UK time.

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