CAULFIELD CUP (2400m – Group 1 – $5,000,000 – Saturday October 20, 2018)
THE CONTENDERS. I think…
1 BEST SOLUTION (57.5kg, barrier 17, Pat Cosgrove for Saeed Bin Suroor)
Barrier 17 will cruel his chances somewhat but Saeed Bin Suroor has his barn humming as witnessed with Benbatl last weekend.
His past three races have been spaced but have resulted in two Group 1 victories and a Group 2 triumph. The 2400m suits him down to the ground but jockey Pat Cosgrove is going to have to produce a smarty to overcome gate 17.
2 THE CLIFFSOFMOHER (56.5kg, barrier 3, Hugh Bowman for Aidan O’Brien)
A recent addition to the Williams ownership group. He’s a genuine threat for the big one after a barnstorming fourth last week in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes. Gate three is not as perfect for him as you might think but jockey Hugh Bowman will try take up a more handy position than this horse ordinarily would. Was last at the 400m in the Caulfield Stakes and hit the line harder than anything, providing real evidence that he will eat up the extra two furlongs, despite not having won over 2400m.
Raced twice in four days in Europe and finished third in the back-up run so he will be ready to roll. A superb each way option.
6 ACE HIGH (55kg, barrier 8, Damien Oliver for David Payne)
Most recent run was a 2000m victory at Randwick in the Group 2 Hill Stakes. Knocked off Egg Tart in that one but this is a considerable rise in grade.
Is fifth up here but has been three weeks since that Randwick win. I’d probably like a touch more than the $11 on offer currently. Was a lip away from claiming both the Victoria Derby and ATC Derby as a three-year-old. Has real claims, despite never having raced at Caulfield which can catch a few out.
7 THE TAJ MAHAL (55kg, barrier 19, James McDonald for Liam Howley)
For a horse that loves to lead, dictate and outstay them, gate 19 throws a real spanner in the works. And work is the operative word because James McDonald is likely going to have to be off the track for quite a while should he be pursuing a handy position in transit.
Only a winner on three of 23 occasions but he’s a mercurial character and one to be kept safe in quadrellas and exotics bets. From the car park alley, you’ll get a big price as they jump.
9 RED VERDON (54kg, barrier 9, Zac Purton for Ed Dunlop)
This entire is worth a few bucks at odds.. Has not won since February but has been racing strongly over two miles so the 2400m will be no concern.
Yet to win a major Group 1 so will need to go career-best here but has the preparer – Ed Dunlop – and pilot – Zac Purton – to do so. May not have a huge following in the market but he’s one I like in the quaddie. He does have some handy form around The Cliffsofmoher which helps give a guide on his class.
13 HOMESMAN (53kg, barrier 4, Ben Melham for Liam Howley)
Led in the Caulfield Stakes but was no match late as half a dozen horses got past him. Was only beaten three-and-a-half lengths, though. Was a gritty winner in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes when Tosen Basil looked to have him on toast. His best is likely still in front of him, despite already running in the money in eight of his 12 career starts. Like his stable mate, The Taj Mahal, would ideally like to settle on the pace and keep them running. Drop six kilograms on his most recent run.
14 KINGS WILL DREAM (53kg, barrier 6, Craig Williams for Darren Weir)
Has been the Caulfield Cup favourite for a long, long time. His Mornington Cup demolition job meant he was a) guaranteed a run but it also meant the barn was able to map out a plan to have him peaking for this one.
The European import has had four runs in preparation for this (three in G1 company) without winning but not being any worse than fourth in any of those. Some claimed his most recent run was his worst but Weir claimed the horse would have let down much harder had jockey Craig Williams come off the fence and let him rip.
His Mornington Cup win was emphatic which did include stable mate Gallic Chieftain who’s a fellow Cup competitor and Harrison, a Lloyd Williams import with a decent reputation. Will likely start favourite, thanks largely to the DK Weir factor.
18 YOUNGSTAR (51.5kg, barrier 10, Kerrin McEvoy for Chris Waller)
The Queensland Oaks winner enters as Chris Waller’s lone participant but she’s a real winning hope against the boys. Her effort in the Turnbull Stakes was mammoth and on paper it reads magnificently – beaten a length to Winx.
She’s only four and has just 11 starts behind her so there are reasons not to be with her but the Turnbull effort is impossible to overlook. Kerrin McEvoy is riding in rich form. The 51.5kg is a big plus, as is being prepared by Waller and ridden by McEvoy.
HOW THEY’LL RACE
Homesman is one who will almost certainly look to lead early but stablemate The Taj Mahal and Kiwi runner Jon Snow will come knocking from wide gates.
Hotpot Kings Will Dream is likely to land closer to the speed whilst others like Ace High and Ventura Storm will be in the first few pairs.
Once everything settles, I see Homesman taking a trail on The Taj Mahal with Jon Snow sitting outside the leader in a genuine enough tempo.
Impossible to split The Cliffsofmoher and Kings Will Dream. Kings Will Dream has been building for this ever since winning the Mornington Cup and no one does it better than Darren Weir – especially in his own backyard. Weir’s statistics at Caulfield are frightening.
Lloyd Williams always plays a part in Spring and whilst he has Yucatan primed for the Melbourne Cup, you get the feeling the camp thinks The Cliffsofmoher can salute here. There are few better at travelling horses than the O’Brien camp. I think I’ll be backing both.
(2) The Cliffsofmoher $7
(14) Kings Will Dream $5.50
(9) Red Verdon $21
(1) Best Solution $14