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Australian Cup preview

The other big autumn feature at Flemington today is the Australian Cup, featuring just about every decent 2000m horse not called Winx! There's also the curious addition of a former Japanese galloper who has beaten the mighty Kitasan Black. It's all set for a tremendous contest.

Taking the reins once again is Darryl Frenc, @winningpunter1. Read more of his work at


TAB Australian Cup
AU$1.5m, Group 1, WFA, 2000m
Saturday 1635 local, 0535 GMT

Speed Map

It’s likely that we will see a very fast run Australian Cup. Supply And Demand heads down to Flemington after having best early figures at Rosehill. Gailo Chop had best early figures last start and will go straight to the lead. Behind them will be Single Gaze again as well as at least one of the Williams horses, most likely Homesman.

My Market

The Runners

Hartnell - We backed him first up in the C.F Orr but I couldn’t go near him with the synthetic hoof filler declared second-up. He drifted out in price significantly and was well beaten. Back to normal on Saturday with his feet but can we back him off that disappointing run? I don’t think we can. He’s not the dominant force he was when he wiped the floor with Jameka in the Turnbull before she subsequently did the same to the Caulfield Cup field. As he’s gotten older I think he needs to race fresh and between 1400-1600m. Last prep we saw him drop off in performance at each start and I expect much of the same here. Big fan of the horse but happy to lose here if he turns his performance around.

Almandin - Serious threat. Great performance first up, it was actually almost identical to his first-up performance last prep. Last prep he went to a significant spike second up however that was over 2500m. This time he stays at 2000m. That first up performance was his peak for 2000m and while he has consistently rated better it has always been over distances longer than 2000m. He’d need to run to a new 2000m peak to win this. He gets blinkers first time though and is likely to sit midfield. Homesman and The Taj Mahal entered in the race means that there should be a really solid tempo and will give Almandin every chance at winning this race. Ready to peak second up a top chance and at the price a great betting proposition.

Ambitious - If you look through his Japanese form he has some solid races on his resume. In his last four starts, he was fourth 3.80L to superstar Maurice over 2000m. fourth 1.5L to Neorealism, 3L fifth to Kitasan Black and then a disappointing most recent start. He clearly has ‘class’. What about his chances first up in an Australian Cup though? It’s certainly not the preparation I would want my horse having if I seriously wanted to win the race. Two runs within the last 12 months, one of those beaten nine lengths. Only the one 990m trial and that wasn’t exactly a great trial either. If he was rock hard fit and in good form, he’d be a big chance but I’m willing to risk him in this. One for the exotics at decent odds if you are betting that way.

Gailo Chop - The deserved favourite. I saw a few comments on social media mention that he will struggle at Flemington and it was Caulfield that inflated his performance. Those people mustn't forget that in his First Australian Prep he won the Group 1 Mackinnon over 2000m at Flemington.  He is the deserved favourite in this.

Second up he had the best figures above Benchmark to the 800m for the day going 7.5 Lengths above Benchmark. He was 7.9 Lengths above Benchmark to the 200, the 4th best of the day.
That absolutely sets him up with the perfect platform to perform on Saturday.

He can absorb pressure. The query here is how much pressure will there be. As I’ve mentioned above I’m expecting a very solid tempo and he’s going to have to go to a new peak to win. In saying that, it’s not a stretch to think that he can go to a new peak. He went to a new peak last start over 1800m second up after setting a very hot tempo bettering his previous peak set in the 2015 Mackinnon Stakes. 

The problem for backing Gailo Chop isn’t whether or not he can win because he certainly can but what price do you take? I won’t be letting him go around without at least breaking even on him.

Ventura Storm - Blinkers on first time. I had him as an early pick for last year’s Melbourne Cup and that never came good. He has a few peaks in his performance that say he could be competitive especially if the Blinkers switch him on. First up he actually had the second best Mid Race and Late Race exertion of the race. That was also impacted because he had to run above benchmark early. I don’t think he can win but it wouldn’t be totally surprising to see him run 2nd-5th.

Supply And Demand - Unbeaten at 2000m and beyond although they were in weaker listed races. I’m actually was hoping he’d find another race. I thought his last start run was excellent. Two starts back he was in a slow mile race where to the 600m he went 7.7 lengths below benchmark. He then went up to the mile and ran a day best of 4.5 lengths above benchmark on a day where it was harder to run fast time. That huge difference in pace change meant he didn’t have a solid platform and ran out of fitness late. From that run though he would now be at his absolute peak fitness. He doesn’t have the peak ratings that some of these other runners do but he will have one of the best platforms in the race. Baster riding for Gai is one of the best Jockey/Trainer combos in the country. In the last 12 months, he has had a 23.8% Strike Rate for her and an ROI of 25.8%. He ticks a lot of boxes and should get to at least 50s on the day. Worth a place bet or keeping in the exotics.

Harlem - Went ok first up when he was able to travel slowly early in the race. Dropped out second up when he had to increase his speed. Don’t think he’ll be able to cope with the pressure in this race.

Lord Fandango - Wasn’t ready to go so fast early last start. Blinkers go on for the first time but I’m expecting a flat run off his last effort. Willing to risk.

The Taj Mahal - The real query runner. First up last prep was flat but back in the field. Then went forward in the Mackinnon and much more work early but kept fighting on. Doesn’t quite have the peak rating to win this but there’s enough to suggest he can improve enough to win. Howley has done a great job bringing the Willliam’s horses forward enough to win first up. I’d need to get at least $10 to have something on but a winning chance in this.

Homesman - He’ll go forward and will most likely find the big change in pace between runs too much to handle. Melham rides The Taj Mahal instead of Homesman and that’s a hint to who the stable have the biggest opinion of. Happy to risk.

Single Gaze - Ran to a new peak last start. She’s such a tough mare. She can figure in the placings again but I don’t think she is dynamic enough to turn the tables on Gailo Chop.

Devise - New Zealand runner that doesn’t have the peak ratings or platform to win this. Concussion plates on first time another big reason to stay out. Surprised he hasn’t gone up 50s.

Betting Suggestions

Two runners I want to back the win and also two Trifecta suggestions that should find some value.

Almandin - 0.8 Units
The Taj Mahal - 0.6 Units
Trifecta 1 - 4 / 1,3,5,6 / F - 100% = $40
Trifecta 2 - 2,9 / 2,3,5,6,9 / 1,2,3,4,5,6,9,10,11 - 100% = $56


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