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Caulfield Cup preview

The Caulfield Cup, the premier 2400m handicap of the world and this week we have a dedicated broadcast on AtTheRaces for the UK audience. Hooray, but too bad if I also wanted to bet on Sydney etc. Just spare us the celebrity & fashion bullshit please...

Anyway, enough of the moaning, it's onto the race with my personal assessment of the field.

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BMW Caulfield Cup
Group 1 Handicap, $3.15m, 2400m
Caulfield 1630 AEST, 0630 BST
Rail out 6m, strong northerly wind expected (direct headwind coming down the side, approaching final turn)


Preferment - Australian Cup and BMW International winner in the autumn but hasn't got within 7L of the winner in his three runs so far this prep, all behind Hartnell. Getting older, perhaps he takes longer to warm up each campaign or maybe it's simply his targets are the championship races rather than the lead-up races where he was successful last spring. Drawn 12 after the scratchings, he'll probably sit wide and midfield, hoping for some cover. Up to the task but topweights rarely win this. But is this a weak year where history can be overcome?

Our Ivanhowe - third in the race last year after Ben Melham did a glorious job of landing him one off the fence from gate 13. Came into that race with a second in the Bart Cummings and a substantial drop in weight. This year, he arrives from a WFA preparation over a shorter trip in higher class. Has always had a big reputation, but apart from last year's third here and the Doomben Cup win, he hasn't really lived up to it. Dwayne Dunn hops on and he's a genius, plus it could easily be argued that this year's Cup is not as strong as 2015. Drawn ideally, chance at odds.

Exospheric - talented but enigmatic performer making his first start in Australia. Has formlines through Scottish and Sir Isaac Newton which give him a genuine chance but the fact Lee Freedman has had to go straight for the lugging bit and glue on shoes suggest he is a right pain in the arse to train. Still a stallion but unless he improves his behaviour, I can see a snip on the cards. Perhaps coincidental but his two poorest runs this season were in front of big crowds at Royal Ascot and at York for the Juddmonte. There's no hiding from the crowd at the start of this race, he might be over the top before they're even in the gates.

Scottish - in-form British raider for Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby. On-pace, very honest and you can make genuine excuses for the only two unplaced runs of his career. This has been his target all season. Ignore any concern about not having won over 2400m. He ran two close seconds over that distance as a 3yo and this season's runs over 10 furlongs are the ideal prep. He will either lead or sit right on the pace, exactly the profile you need at Caulfield with the rail out six metres.

Sir Isaac Newton - blue blood of the field who ran in the hottest race of the European season last time, the Irish Champion Stakes, but was well beaten and out of his depth. Previously relatively close fourths behind Highland Reel and Postponed in top G1 races, and won the Wolferton Hcp at Royal Ascot, one of the better flat handicaps in Europe. A late maturer, the O'Brien camp pulled Highland Reel and Order of St George off the plane to leave the Caulfield Cup to this one. An embarrassment of riches for the stable who are absolutely flying, do not rule him out although the smart guys have queried his lack of speed out of the barrier and why Colm O'Donoghue is aboard rather than a genuinely elite jockey. Loyalty or lack of confidence? Will race in the Lloyd Williams blue & white silks after being purchased, at least partially,yesterday.

Tarzino - SCR

Almoonqith
- has talent but we haven't seen it this campaign. Might have settled too close to the lead in the Bart Cummings last time out, but that's really clutching at straws. No hope.

Sir John Hawkwood - getting on a bit (only 7 by Northern Hemisphere clocks) but in career-best form, no worse than third in past seven starts, including winning the G1 Metropolitan (how is it still a G1?) and a second in the G2 Brisbane Cup. Drawn perfectly in five but Blake Spriggs aboard is a bit of a worry - he's not exactly elite. Genuine and will be in the mix for second to sixth, would need to be a low-rating race for him to occupy the winner's stall.

Articus - German-bred (never heard of the sire but dam won German Oaks), German-trained, and that's about as much as we know. Trained by Andreas Wohler, master of most dominant Melbourne Cup winner in decades in Protectionist, but that's only a recent occurrence, this is his first run for him so settle down on the hype. Once ran second to a horse (Iquitos) who subsequently placed behind the aforementioned 2014 Cup winner and later won the Preis von Baden. Iquitos also ran in the Prix Foy in France and was beaten behind Silverwave Percentages say his price is ridiculous for what he's done so far, blind faith has no place in evidence-based punting.

Tally
- talented Godolphin runner now faced with a hefty task from very wide draw. Will go forward as he did in the Turnbull (third behind Hartnell and Jameka). Winner of the Alister Clark in the autumn, third in the ATC Derby. Has won 50% of his starts on dry tracks and also a winner here. Tough ask for Avdulla, but has a similar profile to the great Might And Power (ok I'm getting old that was nearly 20yrs ago) as not quite a top Sydney 3yo but with maturity, is now a real chance here.

Jameka
- star mare drawn a little wider than ideal but shouldn't be a major problem. Destroyed her opposition in the Naturalism to be guaranteed a run here, but remember that was a relatively weak race. Followed up with a second to Hartnell in the Turnbull. She is very good but in my opinion, any value in her price has long disappeared. Drew wide in the ATC Oaks, ran fourth. Can't afford any mistakes from this barrier at this price. Could park three wide with cover and just run away from them on the turn, but am inclined to risk.

Real Love
- star WA-owned mare who is perfectly set up for this. Flogged them in the JRA Cup at Moonee Valley last time and drops 5.5kg. Drawn in the middle, will push into the front half of the field and be ready to pounce on the turn. The firmer the track the better, Weir trained, Craig Williams aboard, every possible chance on paper.

Set Square - SCR
Big Memory - SCR

Sacred Master
- Chris Waller, tick. Tommy Berry, tick. Lightweight, tick. Newcastle Cup winner, tick. Draws a nice gate after being forced back in the Metropolitan, tick. Definite chance here, don't be swayed by which one Bowman is riding, he'd never make the weight on this one. Best of the locally-trained males, do not leave him out.

Fanatic - SCR

Pemberley
- OTI runner for the hot Victorian stable of Ciaron Maher. Drawn 15 after scratchings, he was close up last week in the Herbert Power but that's nowhere near the strength of this. Thrashed in the Mornington Cup in April, won the Murtoa Cup three weeks ago. That's a decent formline for the Mt.Gambier Cup, not a $3m Group 1.

Go Dreaming
- not a hope in hell. From gate 1 with Katie Mallon aboard, he'll jump to the front and then let one or two cross him, hoping for the dream soft run. Couldn't win this with a tow rope and a wet sail, but if he was mine, bloody oath I'd be running him!

De Little Engine
- gets out to his preferred distance range and ran home well, although well beaten in the Turnbull. Country Cups this spring look ripe for the picking for him, despite being a weak cup, it's still a step too far for him.

Vengeur Masque
- gets a run now with two scratchings. Lightly raced, has only had three runs in Australia. Ran fifth in an English St.Leger so obviously has a bit of talent. Watch for him in a race like the Sandown Cup or next prep.

VERDICT
On pace is generally the place to be at Caulfield with the rail out, and with a stiff headwind down the side, parked just behind them looks the prime position. Jameka might just get caught wide as jockeys surge forward trying to camp just behind the lead, and a three-wide line being created could set it up for Preferment or even Sir Isaac Newton to make their runs out wide. Meanwhile in behind the leaders, the likes of Real Love, Sacred Master and Sir John Hawkwood set ready to pounce when the gaps appear. Scottish is the most likely horse to benefit from Tally crossing from the outside gate and giving him some cover. There'll be a traffic jam on the corner, and that means luck can play a major part.

1. Sacred Master
2. Real Love
3. Our Ivanhowe
4. Sir Isaac Newton

TRIFECTA
2,12,15 x 1,2,4,5,8,11,12,15 x 1,2,4,5,8,10,11,12,15 (34% for $50)

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