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Caulfield Cup preview

Great race we have in store here. Many say Chris Waller has a mortgage on the race with his four runners, form guru Dominic Beirne says it's very open, rating just two lengths between nine horses, meaning it will come down to luck.

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The $2.5m Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup
2400m handicap
1745 local time, 0745 BST.



1. Manighar - after the passing of highly respected owner and racing administrator Andrew Ramsden this week, there will be plenty of tears if this horse, one of the many he part-owned, was successful in Caulfield's premier race. Never got into the race in the Turnbull but was only 1.2L behind It's A Dundeel and Atlantic Jewel the start before. 45% win record at 2400m, three-time Group 1 winner, ignore last start and he'd be no more than half the price. Luke Nolan only has three winners in his last 50 rides, he's off the boil at the moment.

2. Dandino - drawn the car park but so was Dunaden last year (same jockey). Can't believe the price this horse is, think it is massively overhyped. Beat statues at Arlington last start, forget that form. Second to the ill-fated Thomas Chippendale in the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot. Hasn't progressed since 3yo and early 4yo form, merely holding his level while others have caught up. Two runs in big fields, for a win in a Royal Ascot 3yo handicap and well back in the Japan Cup. Well travelled but doubt he is good enough under these conditions.

3. Ethiopia - unplaced since he won the AJC Derby in autumn 2012. Fourth in last year's Cox Plate but backing horses with a win strike rate <10% in Group 1 races is a fast lane to the poor house. Watch for a decent midfield run which will suck some people in for the Melbourne Cup.

4. Waldpark - bit of a talking horse this week, drawn well, flying in trackwork and was beaten a head earlier in the year by the world's best male middle-distance horse, Novellist. Won his first four starts, hasn't been able to finish the job since (five seconds by a total of three lengths). Didn't get into the Turnbull so went to Benalla, carried 62kg, dropped out the back from the outside gate and didn't do a lot. Good run first up in the Makybe Diva. Very good record around this trip, only failure was last behind Danedream (Arc winner 2011) when he started favourite but played up before the race. Right in this if he gets the gun run but can't see him winning without great deal of luck. Makybe Diva replay.

5. Glencadam Gold - stopped quickly after leading the Turnbull, when tempo should have suited. Started 4.50 favourite here last year from gate 17. Going nowhere near as well, up 2kg in weight. Will help set a tempo but can't see him in the money. Curious that stable jockey Tommy Berry rides this one rather than Julienas.

6. Mr Moet - fourth in JRA Cup at last start, conceding weight to others, worked home well late after being hampered at the start. Fourth-up last time in he ran a close second in the Perth Cup (2400m) after sitting wide without cover for the trip. Showed in the autumn he wasn't just an overhyped WA horse, finishing close behind All Too Hard and Foreteller in group races at this track. Drawn nicely, top jock aboard, and prepared by very astute Perth trainer. One of many with a chance if breaks go his way.

7. Fawkner - the sole contender from the Hickmott stable when they could have been mob-handed. Does that say this horse is their leading chance for this race, or reflect on owner Lloyd Williams' obsession with the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup? More of the latter I'd say. Third in the Turnbull last start when many in the field copped interference, he had none. I just don't think he's a Group 1 horse, biggest win so far was a G3 handicap on Derby Day last year. Will he run out a strong 2400m under pressure, possibly posted three-wide? Too short for mine. Turnbull replay.

8. Jet Away - prepared on a European-style campaign (no real break over the winter, kept being topped up, never really lost condition) so having only one start this time in before a G1 over 2400m shouldn't be too much of a worry. Did miss a planned run in September, trainer says he's made up for it in work and with his lavish facilities at Euroa these days, I have no concern about that. Showed in the autumn that he has a big motor and can get himself out of awkward positions. From 13, he'll probably need to get cover in the three-wide line. Have liked this horse since he arrived in Australia and think he is a huge chance.

9. Kelinni - drawn the rail so will be pocketed and has to hope for luck on the home turn. Fourth in last year's Melbourne Cup, that will be his target again. Will mess up a few pacemaps if he pushes forward to make best use of the draw. Hasn't raced that well since, can't see him being in the mix. 65 on Betfair for a reason.

10. Moriarty - another Chris Waller runner, one who won't be too bothered by the wide gate as he'll drop back anyway. Fifth in the Metropolitan behind Julienas after being blocked at the top of the straight when hemmed away after drawing the rail. Has a powerful finishing burst, if he can get a cart into the race at the right time, he's not out of this at all.

11. My Quest For Peace - no idea what all the fuss is about this horse. Ran fifth in this race last year from similar gate when first-up in Australia, but since then has done four-fifths of sweet FA, including running in the Stradbroke, a Group 1 over 1400m. Peter Moody keeps talking the horse up but his local results show nothing. Beat Dandino at Goodwood last year. Six runs in Australia for four duck eggs, a fifth and a seventh. Those 'better' runs were both first-up. Absolutely no hope unless the blinkers going back on can work a miracle.

12. Hawkspur - favourite after winning the Qld Derby in the winter and then unleashing a powerful burst to win the Chelmsford over a mile six weeks ago. Dived through gaps to finish a close-up fifth in the Turnbull to show he should be cherry ripe for this. Qld Derby winners have a shocking record in this race but that just could be because few of them progress like this bloke. Settled close to the pace in his three-year-old campaign, but has been dropping out this time in, quite possibly due to awkward gates - extreme inside or outside draws. Jimmy Cassidy isn't afraid to do something different from the barriers and Chris Waller was holding his cards close to his chest. Drawn immediately outside Julienas who will definitely go forward and only a couple inside Mr O'Ceirin who will also be on the pace. Might he push forward and try to take the 1x1 box seat? Very good horse but don't think he's any value in a tough race.

13. Julienas - last start Metropolitan runner-up. Honest handicapper with strong Listed record (three wins from four) and a G3 win, but perhaps not at G1? Yes, the Metrop is a Group 1 but it's a bottom of the barrel one. Will be right on the pace, McEvoy takes the ride, and his record at 2400m is first class - two wins and two seconds from four starts. Will give a very good sight for your money at around 25. Metrop replay

14. Mr O'Ceirin - in by virtue of winning the Naturalism, is he really good enough to be here? Good off-season stayer but surely not up to these. Only a chance if it buckets down overnight (unlikely, forecast is for 26C).

15. Silent Achiever - Waterford Crystal (or whatever the new name is now) Mile winner last spring, not won in nine races since. Close up in a lot of races since (total beaten margin in those nine of 21L), but that's the problem - you don't get paid out too often for 'close up'. Drawn well, Glenn Boss jumps aboard, awful price.

16. Royal Descent - most dominant winner of the Australian Oaks you've ever seen last April, 10 lengths on a heavy track, shades of Might And Power in the Queen Elizabeth in the late 90s, a win Mark Read described as the best his database had ever seen. Not won since but has been coming along nicely, three placings in leadup races no further than a mile and then copped plenty of interference in the Turnbull to finish mid-pack, a run to forgive completely. And that's my worry here. She's not a big horse, and drawn three in a hotly-contested field of 18 under high pressure, I reckon she'll cop a buffetting again unless she can make use of the gate and go forward. Nash is a genius so if anyone can ride the perfect tactical race, it's him. Too short for me.

17. Tuscan Fire - got into this by winning another of the Melbourne Racing Club's "Win and You're In" races, the Mornington Cup. He's an off-season stayer who has never run a place in a Group race. Nothing more than nuisance value.

18. Dear Demi - bonny mare who has run too many times for my liking at this stage of her career, there's no upside left for her. Had the perfect run when third behind It's A Dundeel and Atlantic Jewel in the Underwood, then close up without too many excuses in the Turnbull. Much harder here from the extreme outside. James Macdonald has a very good record on her (two wins, four placings from seven rides), will need to be a genius to get her into a winning position from there. Turnbull replay.

19. Forgotten Voice (first emergency) - would love to see him get a run as I'm on at 180! Might be an old bugger but has been lightly raced, and Nicky Henderson is a master trainer who can pull a rabbit out of a hat. Last two wins very impressive, has won big competitive handicaps in the past and drawn ideally.

SUMMARY

Two parts to look at here - winning on this race and then the market movements for the Melbourne Cup, for a trading angle.

The favourites or anyone can win? I'm struggling with this one. I've seen two different pacemaps and mine is different again. Riding instructions announced by the stewards on raceday will be important, at this stage I'm making a best guess and I reckon there will be a few changing tactics depending on how the track plays throughout the day and the nerve of the various jockeys and trainers.

I think Cassidy will go forward on Hawkspur and try to tuck in behind Mr O'Ceirin who will cross him. Should he get cover, he then has to be on the ball re any horse coming up on his outside before the home turn, he can't afford to get boxed in there. Waldpark and Jet Away (have backed both antepost) hopefully get cover and stay within range to challenge on the turn.

I really don't know. The answer my friend is a pineapple.... The favourite could win this easily or it's a trifecta which could pay $50k. If you are taking exotics, consider Manighar, Waldpark, Mr Moet, Moriarty and Julienas for the value. For the sake of stringing some numbers together....

Hawkspur
Jet Away
Waldpark
Mr Moet
Moriarty
Julienas
Royal Descent

For the Melbourne Cup trading angle, I don't see too many of those as live Cup chances. Waldpark and Moriarty to shorten, whatever wins will shorten, but will also cop a weight penalty. Unless it steps out and wins by five lengths, don't get too carried away with the winner.

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