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Australian Cup Preview: Glass Harmonium to dominate

March 10, 2012

The 2012 Australian Cup may be light on numbers, but it is definitely not lacking in quality.

The European imports have been lambasted by some, but there is no doubt they have brought life to our middle distance ranks.

Just Horse Racing’s Andrew Hawkins has delved into the small field and has prepared this runner by runner preview:

1. AMERICAIN (9)

2010 Melbourne Cup winner who has won four from five in Australia – he’s also won the Geelong Cup, the Moonee Valley Cup and the Sandown Classic, while he was a good fourth in last year’s Melbourne Cup behind Dunaden. He’s the class runner and he’ll be in the mix. The query is the lack of pace. He won pretty comfortably at Sandown in a small field, but 2000m the first time is a query. The BMW is his race, there’s no doubt about that. He is a big chance here though, even if he’ll improve considerably. It would also be an emotional win for new trainer David Hayes after the death of his mother Betty yesterday.

2. EFFICIENT (4)

2007 Melbourne Cup winner who is well past his best. His one saving grace is his love for Flemington and his form third up in the past is quite good. He’s another one who won’t be suited by the lack of pace, though. I desperately hope he shows something so he can contest The BMW, as it is a crying shame one of our best stayers in recent years has only had two runs beyond 2000m – he won them both. Could place but hard to see him winning. That said, I’ll be cheering very loudly if he crosses the line first.

3. PLAYING GOD (2)

I liked him two weeks ago in the Futurity. After that, I’ve convinced myself I’m never touching him again. I don’t care if he wins, he’s not one of mine. Off his last run, I couldn’t be backing him anyway. He could place at best but a win here would truly shock. And to be honest, I reckon punters will tear the stand down if he wins.

4. GLASS HARMONIUM (8)

Scenario one: Glass Harmonium jumps out on terms. If that happens, I think he just about wins. Scenario two: Glass Harmonium acts like a maniac and misses the start by a length or two. What happens then? Will he still be able to get out and lead? The Mackinnon Stakes showed what can happen when the horse does everything right, but is that a risk that can be taken? With the lack of speed in the race, if he can find the front without much effort, I think he’ll win. Jump out clean, son!

5. MANIGHAR (6)

Manighar’s gone from looking a bit of a bandit under Luca Cumani to looking a genuine weight for age horse with Peter Moody. His win first up was fantastic while his effort in the Peter Young was admirable, sitting deep. I’m still not entirely convinced he’s a Flemington horse – Caulfield seems his track as he doesn’t have a long burst of speed – but he did run fifth in a Melbourne Cup so perhaps I’m being harsh. Place appears best.

6. PRECEDENCE (5)

I’ve pondered Precedence long and hard for this race. He hasn’t looked at his best this season, but he was just given a run in the Peter Young – he was checked numerous times between the 400m and the 200m and he actually found the line quite nicely at the end. I can see him taking a more handy position in the small field, perhaps that could be the spark he needs? Bart Cummings is going for his 14th Australian Cup and while on form it’s hard to recommend Precedence, I believe he’ll run better than his form dictates. Chance.

7. LUCAS CRANACH (1)

8. ILLO (7)

Illo has been a revelation this autumn. A horse bought for the Cups, he instead looks more a mile to 2000m horse. Both his runs so far have been very good. Furthermore, concussion plates come off here, so I’m expecting improvement. Now, my concern. The horse I saw in the Melbourne Cup did not need blinkers. You may remember he got fired up and raced to a seven length lead around the back in last year’s Melbourne Cup. I hope the blinkers do not fire the horse up like that again, because that could be disastrous. It could also suggest they are planning to roll to the front on Illo, setting it up for something else – the stablemate perhaps? He’s one of many chances but the blinkers will be interesting.

9. SOUTHERN SPEED (3)

The Caulfield Cup winner was disappointing in the Peter Young to my eye. Perhaps she peaked too soon in the autumn? Remember, in the spring, her early form was abysmal before she slowly gained form. This time, she’s returned a winner before a huge second to Black Caviar. She should get a cosy run from the alley and perhaps it is too early to dismiss her. But I’ll be looking elsewhere today.

SUMMARY

Three grey horses in a field of eight. That’s surely one for the superstitious punters out there? In fact, I’m putting a grey on top. GLASS HARMONIUM needs to do everything right, but if he does he’ll be going extremely close here. Big chance. I do think AMERICAIN is the danger and on class he’s the logical tip. But he’ll take improvement from today and he’ll be mighty hard to beat in the Ranvet Stakes and The BMW. PRECEDENCE deserves one final chance (of course, he might run last here then blow them away in the BMW) while ILLO is on the right track. Really, anything could win.

NUMBERS

4 – GLASS HARMONIUM
1 – AMERICAIN
6 – PRECEDENCE
8 – ILLO

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