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TAB Australian Cup preview

The second leg of the G1 double at headquarters on Saturday in the Australian Cup, the WFA feature of the Melbourne autumn with an honour roll of champions - Bonecrusher, Vo Rogue, Saintly, Better Loosen Up, Octagonal, Northerly, Lonhro, Makybe Diva... It's fair to say the last decade hasn't been quite so star-studded, but who's to say this field won't unearth a new star?

Saddling up for the preview is shrewd Australian form analyst Callum Gogerly, @_gogs10.

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TAB Australian Cup
Group 1, AU$1,500,000, 2000m
Flemington R8
1635 local, 0535 GMT


Conditions: With warm weather prevailing for most of the week, you would expect the track to be rated in the “Good” range for racing at Flemington on Super Saturday. Those on the rails seemed to have an advantage last week and some prominent personalities weren’t afraid to voice their displeasure. Hopefully we hit a slightly more even surface this week where everybody gets their chance.

Speed: The pace looks quite solid on paper. Expect either Ecuador or the old boy Mourinho to take it up and run it relatively solidly. Awesome Rock has led all the way at this track/distance before while you’d expect Jameka and Stratum Star to be up there somewhere as well. Humidor is likely to be given time to balance up and unwind a run in the straight.

1. Stratum Star ($6.50) - I thought we had “lost him” for good after he went 14 months between drinks only to break the drought late last year. Who else but Darren Weird could bring up a hat-trick of wins with the one horse in three separate states? He beat a very similar field to this last start in the Peter Young Stakes and he is going to get all the favours yet again from the nice draw. Clearly a key player.

2. Awesome Rock ($17) - Has been disappointing this prep and stable have made no excuses. They stated during the week that the probable reason for his poor performance has been from a bad reaction to inoculations he received (for possible Dubai trip). That being said, he still does have a bit of ground to make up from last start against these. He saves his best for this track, crossing the line first in this race last year but losing it on protest, but a win would be an unwelcome surprise to most punters.

3. The United States ($7)- What a super horse. Seems to go around at the top level every season and very rarely runs a bad race. He had a bit of an interrupted spring last prep, but when he returned he ran three weekends in a row and ran well on all occasions. His return in the Peter Young stakes was as good as any of his rivals and he seems to be slightly less favoured in the market place than a lot of those, I think he represents good value.

4. Mourinho ($67) - Veteran who showed improvement last time and fought on well despite being headed early in the straight. Despite that effort you would think a race of this nature is beyond him at this stage of his career.

5. Ecuador ($17) - Had a really easy time of it in front last time and fought on well. The Black Heart Bart form at his last two reads really well for this race. The only issue I have, and it is significant, is the step up to 2000m. Although he’s won at the distance and performed well before, all of his best form this prep has been at around the 1400m mark. It’s a big ask for him to bring that form up to this level and over 2000m. He has to be one I rule out in an even race.

6. Exospheric ($8.50)- Ex-International runner who resumed nicely first up at Caulfield. These international runners usually show their best throughout their second prep and can also make drastic improvement second up. He ran some extremely credible races in the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups. I think he has a win in him this prep and there could be a nice race in him up in Sydney (BMW/Sydney Cup?, but today might just not be the day.

7. Tally ($17)- Strong staying type who's two runs in this time have been pretty good on face value. Ran a good third at this T/D in the Turnbull Stakes last prep, only beaten by the red hot Hartnell and Jameka on that occasion. I've got a little query on whether he is a WFA horse and whether he has a sharp enough sprint to win this, but with Moreira on board and a likely soft run from the gate he could run into the placings.

8. Tom Melbourne ($17)- Where are the clowns, the acrobats and the trained animals? Honestly, you feel that his whole prep has been an absolute circus. He found his niche right towards the end of last spring, rolling along at a solid clip and showing good grit at the end of his races only going down narrowly twice in some fantastic efforts. Since then, the stable have felt that he could be best ridden with a sit and that he now doesn’t resent the crossover nose band like he once did. They must be looking at a different horse to me, because twice his flopped out of the gates then started to pull and has finished off with no gusto at all. Owner Terry Henderson came out this week and criticised the Moreira ride last start, trainer Lee Freedman says they will try and persist with similar tactics and now new jockey Glen Boss says that he will try to take a more aggressive approach. Seriously, what is going on?!? In summary, I don’t think he can win based on what I’ve seen in the last two runs, but it’s not the horse's fault!!

9- Boom Time ($34)- Has been up since last spring, but continues to race extremely well. This looks a little bit rich though. Stratum Star defeated him by 2L in a Magic Millions Cup in January, Stratum Star gave him 7kg on that occasion, they now meet on level terms, couldn't entertain him whatsoever based on that.

10. Humidor ($4.20)- Former NZ galloper who has a few quirks to him. Arguably has cost himself the last two races by laying in during the concluding stages. What I like about him is that he has seemed to improve every run. The most important thing about last run was that he ticked the WFA box, he ran past some quality WFA horses in the run home. Getting to 2000m looks like it will only be a positive as will the wide open expanses of Flemington. He looks ready to win.

11. Jameka ($4.20)- Gun mare who has put together two good runs back from a spell. I didn't think she was given the greatest ride last time and Luke Nolen felt the wrath of the owners for it, dumped for Hugh Bowman today. She tends to peak third and fourth up, but it will be interesting to see if that difficult run last time has any effect on her. All that aside, history suggests that once she gets to this sort of distance range, she always proves difficult to beat.

12. Real Love- (Scratched)

Tips: Relatively even race highlighted by the fact that most of these came through the Peter Young Stakes where they all finished close together. Out of that race, I think that Humidor might have the most improvement to come here. Getting to the bigger track, fourth up and up to 2000m is hopefully a formula that will see him run well. You want to see him do everything right though, he is running out of chances. The United States is probably the overs based on the fact that he was close up last time and should also improve second up. While we know what we are going to get with Jameka and Stratum Star.

1. Humidor
2. The United States
3. Jameka
4. Stratum Star

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