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Live from Geelong: Brigantin set to fire as Melbourne Cup hopes go on the line in the Geelong Cup

October 24, 2012

Today’s Geelong Cup will be out to provide the Melbourne Cup winner for the third time in as many years, with France having two strong chances of recording their third victory.

A top-class Geelong Cup awaits, despite a small field of seven.

I was keen to get out here today to see Brigantin, who I’m hoping will surge to Melbourne Cup favouritism after winning today. He is by far my biggest result in the Melbourne Cup.

He comes to Australia having not won since May last year – that day, though, he beat subsequent Melbourne and Caulfield Cup winner Dunaden at equal weights.

He has since finished third in the Ascot Gold Cup, third in last year’s Prix Kergorlay (beating four of the first five across the line in last year’s Melbourne Cup) and second in this year’s Prix Kergorlay (finishing in front of Herbert Power Stakes winner Shahwardi).

Brigantin loves a firm track and should be suited by today’s conditions, and he is trained by one of the world’s great trainers Andre Fabre.

It is Fabre’s first runner in Australia.

I told my Twitter followers to have something on at the $8 offered by Sportsbet about Brigantin to win the Geelong Cup on Friday morning, saying he wouldn’t start that price today.

Even I wouldn’t have expected how much he would shorten, though.

He is now a $2.80 favourite, and may potentially start shorter. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him drift, a simple matter of market reorientation.

The hype has been overwhelming, and although I like him as a Melbourne Cup horse, I’m worried the lack of pace may play against him today.

I expect both Gatewood and Tac de Boistron to have their admirers.

Gatewood, trained by John Gosden and part-owned by OTI Racing, has already had the beneficial first run in Australia.

He was unlucky in the Herbert Power Stakes, and while it is hard to suggest anything would have beaten Shahwardi that day, I think he would have gone close if he had a clear run.

Instead, he was shuffled back through the field and had no luck whatsoever.

He gets Glen Boss on today, who will probably take advantage of the slow tempo, and I expect him to prove hard to run down.

Tac de Boistron is an interesting entry.

Now trained by one of Australia’s shrewdest trainers in Mick Kent, he has beaten Brigantin three of the four times they’ve met.

However, all three of his wins came on wet ground, with Brigantin having a clear advantage the only time they met on a firm track.

That gives Brigantin the advantage today, although Tac de Boistron does look to have a better turn of foot which may suit given the likely slow speed.

The locals have been, by and large, overlooked.

Maluckyday is a Melbourne Cup runner-up who carries topweight today.

He had to run here after not qualifying for the Caulfield Cup, however he is guaranteed a run in the Melbourne Cup and so his performance will not affect his plans for Flemington.

He is another who is unlikely to be suited by the lack of tempo, although he did win a race at Canterbury three starts before the Melbourne Cup where he raced handy throughout.

Exceptionally has been the form horse this spring, running second to Excluded at Flemington before fine efforts when third in both the Naturalism Stakes and Herbert Power Stakes.

The mare, trained by Terry and Karina O’Sullivan at Stawell, is carrying the “bush horse” moniker this spring and a victory today would put her in the box seat to get a Melbourne Cup run.

The other two are harder to line up.

Peter Moody’s Chateau Margaux is a mare in good form, but she comes from much weaker formlines, while the Kiwi Back In Black simply looks outclassed.

That said, though, both are likely to set the pace and in small fields, anything can happen.

For mine though, it will be Brigantin beating Gatewood with Maluckyday third.

I hear the Geelong Cup is an eye-opening experience as a raceday, the crowd a hark back to a traditional meeting of yesteryear.

I look forward to witnessing such an event.

Of the other races today, I’m keen on Race 2, Number 12 Mont Dane. I’ll also be interested to see Desert War’s little brother Our Desert Warrior in the Geelong Derby Trial, a race which always produces a contender for the Victoria Derby.

Good luck today!

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