My thanks to Darran Pearce again for this guest post, taking a look at The Caulfield Cup, worth a cool £1.7 million or so to the winner. It’s set to be run at 6.45 am on RUK, and there are a few British/Irish trainers represented…
Over to Darran…
The Everest didn’t go to plan last week, but the ground was desperate and apart from Redzel I am not sure any of them handled it. I wondered if Redzel would be able to keep going in the ground, but it turned out that nothing was able to quicken from behind and he was in the prime position. We now move onto the Caulfield Cup where I managed to tip up the winner last year at 50/1. I don’t fancy anything at that sort of price this year, but I am hopeful I have found the winner.
Best Solution – Finished 8th in last year’s Derby so based on that has a bit to find with TheCliffsofnoher, but he does seem to be a better horse this year and he has won his last 3 races including 2 Group 1’s in Germany. I think he has the form to go close in this, but having top weight in these big handicaps is always tough and then you add in the fact he has drawn barrier 17 which also will make things difficult for him.
The Cliffsofmoher – Has only managed to get his head in front once since finishing 2nd in the Derby and that was in the Mooresbridge Stakes at Naas back in May where he had last week’s very impressive winner Yucatan back in 3rd. He has run some creditable races since though. He wasn’t too far behind Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior in the Eclipse when 3rd on his last start in Europe and then last week he ran an eye-catching race to finish 4th in the Caulfield Stakes behind Benbatl where he came from the back and recorded some decent splits late on. The question mark with the European runners when they run a week later whilst in Australia is how they will back up as they aren’t used to doing so unlike the Australian trained horses. However with this in mind connections ran him twice at Royal Ascot this year and having finished 4th in the Prince Of Wales on the Wednesday he then finished 3rd in the Hardwicke on the Saturday. Both those runs are good enough to see him go close in this and he has a good draw in 3.
Chestnut Coat – Hasn’t run since the end of May when only 11th and although running creditable races in a Group 2 when 2nd in March and then 5th in a Group 1 the following month, to me he hasn’t achieved as much as a few of these and he looks to have plenty of weight.
Jon Snow – Has only run 3 times since finishing 9th in last year’s race where he didn’t get the clearest of runs. His run in the Makybe Diva was decent to finish 4th, but he was only 7th last time behind Winx in the Turnbull. Might be capable of running well, but starting from 15 makes things harder and had to think that he is well handicapped.
Sound Check – Having his first start in Australia having been trained in Germany. Was only just behind Best Solution last time off level weights so the 2kg he gets here should mean that he is capable of turning the form around. I just wonder if he is better over a further trip though as his last 3 wins have come over 2800m and 3200m and he might be of more interest in the Melbourne Cup.
Ace High – Won the Victorian Derby at Flemington last year and won for the first time since when taking the Hill Stakes at Randwick last time. His last 600m was pretty speedy and given his runs in the Victorian Derby and the ATC Derby when he was 2nd it suggests he should improve again for stepping back up in trip. Has a decent draw in 8 and has solid claims.
The Taj Mahel – Has won 2 races since moving to Australia having won the Sandown Classic in November when beating Almandin and then last time he won the JRA Cup at Moonee Valley. I’m not sure the form of that last win is all that strong and he may have benefited at Sandown by the fact the 2nd and 3rd had run in the Melbourne Cup. The other big issue is that he is usually ridden from the front and it would take a huge effort for him to do that from his draw of 19.
Duretto – The Andrew Balding trained runner is an interesting contender having got back to winning ways at Chester last month after running some creditable races in defeat. Was only just behind Best Solution at Newmarket and at these weights he would be capable of reversing that form. The problems I have is that he seems to prefer a softer surface and I think he is better over further so to me it looks like being a prep run for the Melbourne Cup more than anything else.
Red Verdon – His very consistent and finished 2nd in the Hardwick at Royal Ascot when in front of The Cliffsofmoher. Was then 2nd at Glorious Goodwood before finishing 5th in the Lonsdale Cup. Should be capable of running a decent race and might hit the frame, but it is hard to see him being good enough to win.
Vengeur Masque – Won the Geelong Cup and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Felmington last spring and has run OK in 3 runs so far this prep, but his form doesn’t look good enough to land this.
Ventura Storm – Was one of my fancies for this race last year but he could only finish 13th, but he had a bruised foot after the race and he then ran no sort of race in the Melbourne Cup. Has yet to win since moving to Australia which is a concern, but he has been capable of the sort of form which would see him go close in this including last time when he was a close 4th in the Turnbull behind Winx. Kings Will Dream was only just in front, but that day Ventura Storm got wight from him wehreas now he has to carry more weight. Might well be capable of out running his odds though.
Mighty Boss – The outsider of the field and hard to see him playing a part.
Homesman – Is 2/3 at the track and the form of both those wins is pretty strong. Was gutsy when winning the Underwood Stakes here two starts back and ran OK in the Caulfield Stakes last week. Has only run over this trip once when 5th at Royal Ascot last year, but it seems it won’t be an issue and he might even improve for it. Has a good draw and I can see him running a solid race.
Kings Will Dream – I am sure former connections didn’t think they were selling the next year’s Caulfield Cup favourite after he won a Pontefract maiden last July for Micky Hammond. That was only his 3rd career start and the amount he has improved since going to the superb Darren Weir has been staggering. Last time some people were having a go at the Winx performance because he finished 3rd and was only rated 78 over here. That opinion shows how lazy people can be and they clearly hadn’t looked at the horses form. He made a winning debut in Australia back in Janauary in a BM64 is a pretty low grade contest. He then worked his way through the grades looking really impressive each time and just 4 starts later he bolted up in the Listed Mornington Cup, his only start over 1m4f so far. To prove the improvement he had shown compared to his UK form he beat Harrison who on his last start over here ran in the Ascot Gold Cup. I have seen horses improve from Europe when doing Down Under, but he seems to have made the most improvement by far. He has made 4 starts this prep as he stepped up in company and he has been impressive in all of them despite not winning. The 2nd in the Makybe Diva probably the pick of them, but the 3rd to Winx in the Turnbull was obviously a very good effort as well. His Australian rating has gone from 65 to 107 in 10 months. He has been the favourite for this race for months now and it is easy to see why. Weir should have him ready to peak as this is his main target and stepping back up to 1m4f is ideal. He has the perfect draw in 6 as well so he should be able to sit in just behind the speed.
Sole Impact – The 2nd Japanese runner in the race and appears to love a firm track so is likely to have conditions to suit although I’m not sure he is good enough and he appears to be better over further.
Gallic Chieftain – A horse who I have been closely following for nearly 2 years now having caught a race at Sandown on the TV when I was in Australia. He was one of the biggest eye-catchers I have ever seen that day and he duly went onto win 4 of his next 7 starts ending up by landing the Winter Cup at Rosehill. I thought he would continue to kick on after that but for one reason and another he ended up costing me a fair bit of cash. He did manage to get his head in front again in his last prep and he won a couple of country cups as well as at Flemington. This prep he just failed to get to The Taj Mahal in the JRA Cup and then stayed onto finish 4th in the Herbert Power last week. Now I can’t see him winning this as I don’t think he is good enough, but there could be a fair pace to aim at and that might just allow him to run on past beaten horses and it wouldn’t be a total shock if he were to get into the first half dozen.
Night’s Watch – Ran OK when 6th in the Caulfield Stakes last week although he had looked better earlier in his prep when winning here over 7f and 1m2f. He runs over this trip for the first time here, but it does look like he will be suited to it although the question is if he will be good enough. He might be and I can see why he is towards the head of the market, but he looks more a horse that might stay on into the places rather than actually winning.
Youngster – Broke her maiden take back in April and has done nothing but improve since and won the Queensland Oaks over 1m3f in May. Hasn’t won in three starts so far this prep, but ran a couple of times over a trip too short and then was 2nd to Winx in the Turnbull. That was obviously a hell of an effort and as much as Winx is a freak, she actually clocked some pretty speedy late sectionals herself. It would appear she has been trained to peak for this contest stepping up to the trip for the first time and I think she has a massive chance from a good draw and bottom weight.
Summary – I have liked Kings Will Dream for this for months now and he has had the ideal prep coming into this. Stepping back up to this trip for the first time since his Mornington Cup romp will be ideal, he has a great deal and everything looks in place for him to run a big race. The main danger for me is Youngster. She looks progressive and that was a hell of a run in the Turnbull last time where she finished just in front of Kings Will Dream. I will be having a saver on her. For those two to force Winx to produce what she had to do to win that day makes me think it is the best piece of form and both are at the right end of the handicap. The Cliffsofmoher ran a nice race last week and I think they backed him up at Royal Ascot this year to see how he handled it with this race in mind he should go close. The other one for the first four (a very popular bet Down Under) for me is Ace High who seems ideally suited by this trip and has been in good form this prep. At bigger prices Nights Watch, Ventura Storm and Gallic Chieftain could be capable of hitting the frame and Betfred and Skybet are both going 5 places on the race.
1st Kings Will Dream
3rd The Cliffsofmoher
4th Ace High