The first of the Melbourne Spring Racing majors - the Caulfield Cup - takes place on Saturday.
Melbourne Racing Club’s 2400-metre Group 1 handicap worth $5 million will be run at Caulfield at 5:15pm AEDT.
There are a number of key chances in the race but we’ve attempted to give you a snapshot of each and every horse with our runner-by-runner guide.
Runner-by-runner guide to the Caulfield Cup
(Selections at the bottom)
1. Anthony Van Dyck
Aidan O'Brien / Hugh Bowman (58.5kg)
TAB odds: $7.50
He’s the class stayer of the field. The superior staying form in the race but he’s drawn very wide and a question mark over his wet form credentials for which the stable have no issue.
What they say: “There’s rain forecast but it’ll be nothing like what that type of rain would do the tracks back home - he will be fine,” stable foreman TJ Comerford told Racing.com.
James Cummings / John Allen (57kg)
TAB odds: $31
The veteran Godolphin runner hasn’t won for a while but continues to chip away in the big races this spring. Tough to recommend him as a winning hope but he’ll relish the wet conditions if the forecast rain arrives.
3. Vow And Declare
Danny O'Brien / Damien Oliver (57kg)
TAB odds: $34
The reigning Melbourne Cup winner. Ran second in last year’s Caulfield Cup but did carry only 52.5kgs and has to carry 57kgs here and on a track with give in it. Comes out of the same race as favourite Verry Elleegant but he’s tough to recommend here.
Joseph O'Brien / Ben Melham (55kg)
TAB odds: $11
One of the more intriguing runners in the race. Has avoided the handicapper and only gets the 55.5kgs. Owned by leviathan horseman Lloyd Williams and should handle the track.
What they say: “I’m really happy with the draw and I couldn’t see why he wouldn’t run well. He tends to go forward, which should hold him in good stead for the weekend. He’s been set for the race and I think he’s got a winnable weight,” Melham told Racing.com.
5. Mirage Dancer
Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young / Craig Newitt (55kg)
TAB odds: $19
The winner of the 2020 Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m). Was aided by a Nash Rawiller peach ride on that occasion and would need something similar here to see him get close. Might be outshone by some superior stayers.
Kris Lees / Billy Egan (55kg)
TAB odds: $81
Has started fairly long odds in all of his runs this preparation and has not really caught the eye at any stage thus far. $81 and rightfully so.
7. Verry Elleegant
Chris Waller / Mark Zahra (55kg)
TAB odds: $5
She was sensational when sticking her neck out to win the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) and she’ll absolutely love the forecast rain to arrive and arrive in buckets. Trainer Chris Waller only has one caveat on her… the weight.
What they say: “She’s got a big weight and that has to be respected. It has made it hard for a lot mares in the past and that’s my concern,” Waller told 7News.
“The rain forecast will definitely help and she’s hitting form at the right time. I wouldn’t swap my horse for anything,” Zahra said on Racing.com.
8. Dashing Willoughby
Andrew Balding / Michael Walker (54.5kg)
TAB odds: $26
Drawn the inside and it might not be the place to be. Looks to be outclassed although the jockey, Michael Walker, is well known for getting horses up at long odds in big races. Blowout chance.
Chris Waller / Damian Lane (54.5kg)
TAB odds: $12
Stablemate of the favourite Verry Elleegant. Was brave in defeat in the Turnbull Stakes and he’s drawn next door the favourite as well. Can handle any conditions and did run very well in this race last year despite having very little luck in the run.
10. Prince Of Arran
Charlie Fellowes / Jamie Kah (54.5kg)
TAB odds: $18
This eight-year-old gelding grows another leg when he runs in Australia. Gets the services of the in-form Jamie Kah but might need the run to bring him on for yet another tilt at the Melbourne Cup.
11. Master Of Wine
Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes / Craig Williams (53.5kg)
TAB odds: $7
Champion jockey Craig Williams takes over as the pilot for the Hawkes-trained stayer. Was one of the top six in the blanket-finish Turnbull.
Owner Rupert Legh said he’s very content with how the horse is travelling heading into his Grand Final.
What they say: “He's been prepared for this race, he's looking for a mile-and-a-half and his form leading up to it, we couldn't be happier with it,” Legh told The Age.
12. The Chosen One
Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman / Daniel Stackhouse (53.5kg)
TAB odds: $71
Ran ok in this race last year when finishing ninth. Won first-up this preparation at nice odds but was five lengths behind Chapada in the Herbert Power. Will need to improve on that. Has failed in seven soft track runs. Big odds.
Anthony & Sam Freedman / Luke Currie (53kg)
TAB odds: $23
Flashed home as the eye-catcher in the Turnbull. Victoria Derby winner so he will stay but will he be able to out-sprint the higher quality stayers? Wide draw means he’ll likely have a tough run throughout.
Leon Macdonald & Andrew Gluyas / William Pike (52.5kg)
TAB odds: $14
Was close up behind Verry Elleegant in the Turnbull after a lovely run near the speed. Has improved on each run this preparation and could now be set to peak. Draw is a bit sticky. SA Derby runner-up behind Russian Camelot over 2500m. Jockey Willie Pike rode four winners on Guineas day.
What they say: “I know I’ve got a nice tough horse so I’ve just got to try and find myself a nice run from there and I know he’ll be nice and tough to the line. He hasn’t been far away he’s been running very well, he’s a tough and honest horse and hopefully I can utilise those assets on the day and we can come up with the goods,” Pike said on Racing.com.
15. True Self
Willie Mullins / Declan Bates (52kg)
TAB odds: $31
She won the Queen Elizabeth and was a close second in the Geelong Cup last year. Hasn’t raced since August 22 when she finished down the track in the Ebor Handicap. Gets in light but would have to improve significantly to be in the finish.
16. Aktau - Michael Moroney (51kg)
17. Toffee Tongue
Chris Waller / Michael Dee (51kg)
TAB odds: $15
Threatened to win the Turnbull when she poked through on the inside but just peaked on her run. She was massive odds that day. The draw is kind to her and she maps to get a nice run. One of her best performances to date was over 2400m when second behind Colette in the ATC Oaks on a heavy track.
What they say: “Her run last start was very good behind Verry Elleegant, she sort of just missed the bob there in the Turnbull so last start she's shown that she's back at her best and in a race like the Caulfield Cup with all the favours she certainly can be right in it,” Dee said on Racing.com.
Michael Moroney / Jye McNeil (50.5kg)
TAB odds: $21
Comfortably won the Group 2 Herbert Power at Caulfield last Saturday and is now backing up after seven days with 4.5 less kilos on his back. Has two wins at this distance range but in lesser company. However, is in good form and could sneak a place perhaps.
What they say: “He's adaptable in a race. If they are going slow he can switch off and he's capable of making a forward move. If there isn't a lot of speed, Jye can go forward on him. He's ticked a lot of boxes going into a Caulfield Cup,” Moroney said.
19. Raheen House
Kris Lees / Daniel Moor (53.5kg)
TAB odds: $151
Won the Group 2 Chairman's Quality over 2600m at Randwick in April before a third in the Sydney Cup. His two runs since have been well below his best. Gets into the field after the scratching of Aktau. Is enormous odds and a win would certainly shock.
20e. San Huberto
Matt Cumani / Fred Kersley (53.5kg)
TAB odds: $81
French import with the Cumani yard who finished 17.5 lengths last in the Prix Kergorlay in August. Currently first emergency.
Mick Price & Michael Kent Jnr / Zac Spain (51.5kg)
TAB odds: $151
Has struggled in three runs back this preparation. Led them up in the Turnbull but quickly fell away to finish second last. Hard to recommend.
22e. Le Don De Vie
Anthony & Sam Freedman / TBC (52.5kg)
TAB odds: $61
Import who won a Listed race in the UK over 2300m last time out. May not gain a run but even if he does, he will have to run an absolute career-best to figure.
7. Verry Elleegant
1. Anthony Van Dyck
Backing Verry Elleegant to WIN
Also backing Buckhurst EACH-WAY
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