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Glorious Goodwood (Goodwood Cup, Glorious Stakes) marks the start of Europe’s Melbourne Cup quest

August 2, 2012

The European quest for the Melbourne Cup arguably begins tonight at Goodwood and Deauville.

In many ways, this is a silly statement – the likes of Red Cadeaux have already had their European campaigns and are now aiming at Melbourne. But it is the Glorious Goodwood festival which marks the first of a number of races which determines whether a horse makes the arduous trip to the Antipodes or stays behind to chase lesser riches.

The Group 2 Goodwood Cup (2m/3200m) has been one of the better European guides for the Melbourne Cup in recent years.

No Goodwood Cup winner has gone on to win the Melbourne Cup, but a number have gone close – Goodwood Cup winners to have placed in the Melbourne Cup include Persian Punch (2001, 2003 – placed in the Melbourne Cup 1998, 2001) and Jardines Lookout (2002 – placed in the Melbourne Cup in 2003). 2006 Goodwood Cup winner Yeats ran seventh in Melbourne, while 2010 winner Illustrious Blue ran ninth.

Others to come from the race include disappointments Double Trigger and Distinction (who ran well in 2004 but disappointed following his Goodwood Cup win in 2005).

However, it is horses that have finished behind the winner who have excited in Melbourne. This was highlighted last year by the four Goodwood Cup runners who came to Melbourne – they were Lost In The Moment (2nd), Fox Hunt (4th), Manighar (8th) and Red Cadeaux (10th). In our biggest race, they were four of the first seven across the line – Red Cadeaux finished second, Manighar fifth, Lost In The Moment sixth and Fox Hunt seventh.

Others to run well in both races include 2009 Goodwood Cup runner up Mourilyan, who ran third in Melbourne and 2006 Goodwood Cup sixth Land ‘n’ Stars, who ran fifth in Melbourne.

This year’s race sees a number of contenders for the Melbourne spring carnival, led by Godolphin’s Ascot Gold Cup winner Colour Vision, last year’s runner up Lost In The Moment and tough stayer Simenon.

Australian punters are split about whether we’ll see Colour Vision during the spring. In his favour is that, despite winning over the 4000m of the Ascot Gold Cup, he seems to have a turn of foot – vital for Australian racing.

Against him though is the likely weight he’ll get compared to his race record. While he’d definitely get a run, he falls outside the stereotype of horses that Godolphin have brought in recent years.

Comparatively, Lost In The Moment remains a likely type for the race. He has had a quiet season since his sixth in last year’s Melbourne Cup. He ran a very powerful second in the Goodwood Cup last year, a run which attracted a lot of fans in his quest for the race that stops the nation. If he runs similarly, expect him to come to our shores once more.

One-time hurdler Simenon is an entirely different proposition. He won twice in five days at Royal Ascot, once over 4000m and once over almost 4400m.  A horse with form over those distances is normally dismissed from a Melbourne Cup point of view, as they are seen as too dour. While I personally believe he’d be unsuited to a Melbourne Cup, a win in the Goodwood Cup would see him book his ticket to Melbourne for Irish trainer Willie Mullins – the horseman most commonly associated with the quirky Holy Orders, who refused to gallop in the week leading up to the 2003 Melbourne Cup.

An hour earlier, across the English Channel, the Listed Prix de Reux (2500m) at Deauville may be the launching pad for another Australian campaign. Last year, the race was won by Americain, who came into the race with mediocre form.

This year, it will be Brigantin who will be hoping to begin his quest for the Melbourne Cup, although he has seemingly been at a level below his best. A placegetter in both the Ascot Gold Cup and the Prix Kergorlay last year, he has struggled on soft ground this preparation.

He is set to start favourite at Deauville, and a win will see him head to the Prix Kergorlay in three weeks time before a trip to Melbourne.

Tomorrow night, it is the Group 3 Glorious Stakes (1m4f/2400m) at Goodwood which will be in the spotlight for Australian punters.

It has not been until the last five years that this has become a noted lead up for the Melbourne Cup. However, 1980 Melbourne Cup favourite Bohemian Grove won this race in 1979 in a prelude for what would come a number of years later.

In 2007, Purple Moon won this race before heading to York to win the Ebor Handicap. Starting favourite in the 2007 Melbourne Cup, he was grabbed late by Efficient but still ran second.

Last year, the race was won by Drunken Sailor, who ran 12th in last year’s Melbourne Cup.

Other Melbourne Cup chances to come through the race include Jukebox Jury, who ran third last year before finishing 20th in Melbourne; Manighar, who ran fifth in 2010 prior to his first visit to Australia where he finished seventh in the Melbourne Cup (My Kingdom of Fife was sixth); and Crime Scene, who ran a long last in 2009 before finishing second in Melbourne.

This year provides one of the strongest Melbourne Cup guides to date, with two runners highly likely to come to Melbourne. These are the OTI-owned Quest for Peace, who has raced below his best at his last couple of runs, and the OTI part-owned Gatewood, who is stepping up in grade after winning the Wolferton Handicap at Royal Ascot.

Godolphin is also sending around two runners, Dubai Prince and Songcraft, with the latter a lightly raced type considered to be perfect for the Melbourne Cup.

Following this weekend, it is another two weeks before a number of prominent lead-ups. The Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes (a2600m) is likely to feature early Melbourne Cup fancy Mount Athos on August 18, while the following day sees the Group 2 Prix Kergorlay (3000m) at Deauville – the race which last year was contested by four of the top five across the line in the Melbourne Cup.

The following week, August 25 sees the Ebor Handicap (a2800m), Britain’s richest handicap, and the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup (3200m).

We will be monitoring these international races closely prior to the close of entries for the Melbourne Cup on September 3. Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate entries close next Tuesday, August 7.

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