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Hawk’s 2013 Caulfield Cup Preview – Who Will Win?

October 19, 2013

This is it – the first of the big features of the Melbourne spring, the Caulfield Cup over 2400m.

It’s a great spectacle every year, but this year it looks very open – especially amongst the unfancied brigade.

It may not be as deep a race as last year’s epic, but it’s sure to be a great betting race and really, anything could win without totally surprising.

This year’s Caulfield Cup is unusual in that there are few runners here who look like being chances in the Melbourne Cup. The bulk of those at the top of the Melbourne Cup market are either heading to Moonee Valley next Saturday, or are flying into Melbourne today.

Rather than detracting from the importance of the Caulfield Cup, I think it adds to the race. It’s a race which can stand on its own two feet, and this year especially, I think it can shed the tag of being a Melbourne Cup lead-up.

So who will win the Caulfield Cup? I’ve spent days doing the form, changing my mind numerous times, but I’ve settled on my numbers. Here is how I see the Caulfield Cup. Best of luck if you have a bet today!

Manighar

1. MANIGHAR (9)

Jockey: Luke Nolen
Trainer: Peter Moody
Weight: 58kg
Luxbet’s odds (as of October 19, 8:30am): $67
Predicted finish: 12th

Import back for his third attempt, his first for Peter Moody after finishing fifth to Descarado in 2010 and fourth to Southern Speed in 2011 for Luca Cumani. The 2012 autumn saw his best form, when he won the Australian Cup, Ranvet Stakes and The BMW. He had two runs last spring, but was injured after finishing sixth as an even money favourite and he went for a spell. He didn’t win during the autumn, his best performance a second to Quintessential in the Eagle Farm Cup and a fourth to Beaten Up in the Doomben Cup. He returned with a fairly good sixth in the Makybe Diva Stakes before a solid fifth in the Underwood Stakes. He looked ready to return to his best in the Turnbull Stakes, but he scoped dirty and finished second last, beaten 13 lengths. You can’t take anything from that run, but with 58kg, you would have liked to see more from him this preparation. He could give this a shake if he was at his best, but he hasn’t looked at his best for a while. Not this year.

2. DANDINO (16)Dandino

Jockey: Craig Williams
Trainer: Marco Botti
Weight: 56.5kg
Luxbet’s odds (as of October 19, 8:30am): $9.50
Predicted finish: 8th

Dandino was bought earlier this year by Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock, who brought Jakkalberry to Australia last year to finish midfield in the Caulfield Cup before a terrific third in the Melbourne Cup. He was purchased having won seven from 22, after not finishing too far behind Red Cadeaux and Dunaden in the Hong Kong Vase last December. His best win for his former connections was a win in the Jockey Club Stakes last year. This year, he’s had a light preparation of three starts solely aimed at victory in Melbourne. His first two runs this year, he finished second on both occasions – in the Jockey Club Stakes to the in-form Universal and in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot to Thomas Chippendale, who collapsed just past the line and died. He then went to the United States, where he won the American St Leger – a race won by Jakkalberry last year. It was a tough win, as he had to overcome significant interference in the straight, but it’s easy to forget he was up against American turf stayers, by far their weakest brigade. Craig Williams took Dunaden to victory last year from barrier 18, so you’d have to think he can overcome the draw. But I think he’s severe unders now due to hype. Jakkalberry started $21 last year, and I don’t think Dandino is a significantly better chance than Jakkalberry. He’s some chance, but I’m happy to risk at the price. Include in exotics.

3. ETHIOPIA (12)Ethiopia

Jockey: Rhys McLeod
Trainer: Pat Carey
Weight: 56.5kg
Luxbet’s odds (as of October 19, 8:30am): $41
Predicted finish: 5th

The 2012 Australian Derby winner who has had this race as a target since he finished a very good fourth in the Cox Plate last year. His form since then has been inconclusive – he finished a tailed off last in the Melbourne Cup after being injured, finished second last on a bottomless track in the Doncaster Mile earlier this year, ran a terrific race first up when fifth in the Makybe Diva before a lacklustre last in the Underwood Stakes. That day, he was the only runner to really disappoint as he was the only horse in the first half of the field to fall away. Pat Carey has given him a month between runs, which he did before Ethiopia won the Derby as a maiden – it remains his only victory. It’s my understanding that this was the plan all along, and not simply a reaction to any issues that arose. If he runs up to his best – last year’s Cox Plate fourth, or even his Derby success – he’d be an each way chance in this. He’s the forgotten horse, and I’ll be including him in all exotics.

4. WALDPARK (7)Waldpark

Jockey: Brenton Avdulla
Trainer: Anthony Freedman
Weight: 56kg
Luxbet’s odds (as of October 19, 8:30am): $31
Predicted finish: 7th

The 2011 German Derby winner who has not won a race since then. He seemed to have a few quirks in Europe which prevented him from displaying his best form. At his final start in Europe, he looked set to win on a wet track but was just nabbed by Novellist, who went on to win England’s premier race for the older horses, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, by five lengths. That form looks very good for a race like this – but for Waldpark, he has been far from his best in Australia. He was pretty good first up in the Makybe Diva Stakes when he was a luckless eighth, could not make ground off a slow tempo when an inconclusive 11th in the Underwood Stakes, before running on from last under 62kg to finish fifth behind runaway leader Flying Hussler in the Benalla Cup. It’s hard to get a gauge for how he is going, and his trackwork on Tuesday suggests he is some chance of returning to his best. If that happens, he’d go close. On his current form though, he’s probably a place chance at the very best.

5. GLENCADAM GOLD (6)Glencadam Gold

Jockey: Tommy Berry
Trainer: Gai Waterhouse
Weight: 55.5kg
Luxbet’s odds (as of October 19, 8:30am): $41
Predicted finish: 15th

Import who won last year’s Metropolitan Handicap in a canter. On the back of that performance, he started favourite in the Caulfield Cup, but after drawing wide he was forced to do a lot of work into the first turn and he wilted to finish 15th. He stepped out a roughie in the Melbourne Cup, but under a masterful Tommy Berry ride, he finished sixth. He was terrible in the autumn in two runs, so he was tipped out with the spring in mind. This preparation, he showed little when eighth in the Chelmsford Stakes, improved to something near his best when second in the Hill Stakes, before failing to fire in the Turnbull Stakes. One shrewd judge has compared his form to Descarado’s in 2010, but Descarado was able to take advantage of a fairly slow tempo and a wet track. I doubt Glencadam Gold will get those conditions. If Tommy Berry can stack them up again like he did in last year’s Melbourne Cup, he’s some chance. But I don’t think he’s going as well as he was last year and with Julienas and Mr O’Ceirin pressing him I doubt he’ll get a soft lead, so I’m happy to overlook.

6. MR MOET (8)Mr Moet

Jockey: Hugh Bowman
Trainer: Adam Durrant
Weight: 55.5kg
Luxbet’s odds (as of October 19, 8:30am): $26
Predicted finish: 3rd

Perth galloper who comes into this overlooked by most. He won the Strickland Stakes last winter, but he was ignored by most heading into the Railway Stakes first up last November. He sprung an upset, bursting through for a fairly easy win. He then finished second in the Kingston Town Classic to Luckygray, won the Cox Stakes before finishing second to Talent Show in the Perth Cup. Arriving in Melbourne for the autumn, he ran a cracker first up when three quarters of a length behind All Too Hard, before finishing a long neck behind Foreteller in the St George Stakes and five lengths from Super Cool in the Australian Cup. This spring, he has had a very quiet preparation, finishing four lengths from the winner in both the Makybe Diva Stakes and the Underwood Stakes. He then went to the JRA Cup for what was considered an easy kill, but he got a long way back before flying home for fourth under 59kg. It was a very similar run to Alcopop, who came out and finished second in the Caulfield Cup last year. The JRA Cup run was, for mine, the run of the race and he looks to be spot on for the Caulfield Cup. I never thought I’d be including a horse that couldn’t win a Perth Cup in my selections for the Caulfield Cup, but I think he’s the best roughie in the race. Chance.

7. FAWKNER (10)Fawkner

Jockey: Hugh Bowman
Trainer: Robert Hickmott
Weight: 55kg
Luxbet’s odds (as of October 19, 8:30am): $11
Predicted finish: 11th

After much conjecture, Fawkner remains as the only Lloyd Williams representative in the race, with many of his impressive string heading to the Cox Plate. This race has been a target for him all preparation, slightly surprising given he hasn’t raced beyond 2000m in his career. Also, every time he has stepped up to 2000m, he has seemed to lack that killer punch necessary to land a victory. He raced at the top levels as a miler last spring, and he was slightly unlucky not to have a Group 1 next to his name when he was nosed out by Happy Trails in the Emirates Stakes. He has raced more dour this preparation, only warming up late when seventh in the Tramway Quality and fifth in the George Main Stakes. He was good in the Turnbull Stakes, racing up and looking the winner before peaking on his run late. While Team Williams are confident he will stay the trip, I have my doubts. Again, I could see him racing up to the leaders at the 250m, only for him to be nabbed late. Cannot have him at 2400m, and I’ll be happy to take him on.

8. JET AWAY (11)Jet Away

Jockey: Damien Oliver
Trainer: David Hayes
Weight: 55kg
Luxbet’s odds (as of October 19, 8:30am): $9
Predicted finish: 2nd

English import who was formerly trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil of Frankel fame. He’s only had the three starts in Australia, but he’s created a big impression every time. He had 16 starts in the UK for six wins, the best of those a Listed win in the Festival Stakes where he beat Melbourne Cup favourite Fiorente and one time Australian Derby runner up Retrieve by three lengths. That said, he disappointed when he stepped up to a mile and a half on two occasions, which does present some query here. His Australian debut victory in the Bendigo Golden Mile was one of the most impressive victories of the autumn, in that he came from last and defeated the field effortlessly. At his next start, he won the Easter Cup after looking in some trouble halfway down the straight, cementing his spot near the top of early Caulfield Cup markets. This spring, he’s only been seen once after setbacks prevented him from running in the Makybe Diva Stakes and the Underwood Stakes. That would normally be a huge worry, but given he’s trained by David Hayes at his spectacular Euroa property, I don’t think it would be too big a deal. His return in the Turnbull Stakes was outstanding, in that he loomed up to win but condition gave out late. He was also squeezed out right on the line, so instead of being beaten a length, he was beaten two lengths. With natural improvement, he looks a big chance of giving Hayes his third Caulfield Cup.

9. KELINNI (1)Kelinni

Jockey: Steven Arnold
Trainer: Chris Waller
Weight: 55kg
Luxbet’s odds (as of October 19, 8:30am): $51
Predicted finish: 18th

Last year’s Lexus Stakes winner who finished fourth in the Melbourne Cup after a long preparation that began in early July. You don’t see that very often these days! In the autumn, he had a very good preparation, including a fourth in The BMW and a win in the JRA Plate. It looked all set to culminate in victory in the Sydney Cup, but he ran poorly and finished sixth. This preparation looked to be coming along alright when he finished midfield in the Warwick Stakes and the Chelmsford Stakes, but a bout of colic ruled him out of the Hill Stakes and he was suddenly on the back foot. He was expected to show his best in the Craven Plate two weeks ago, but he was extremely disappointing when last of the seven runners. He was only beaten four lengths, but he showed nothing to suggest he’d be competitive in a Caulfield Cup. I also think the inside barrier is not the place to be, especially for him, so that coupled with his last run means I’m happy to avoid.

10. MORIARTY (15)Moriarty

Jockey: Craig Newitt
Trainer: Chris Waller
Weight: 55kg
Luxbet’s odds (as of October 19, 8:30am): $26
Predicted finish: 9th

Another Chris Waller import who raced his way through the grades to take out the Brisbane Cup earlier this year. It’s quite some feat, given he was considered a real risk at 2400m by his trainer just a few months back. This preparation, he came through the traditional Sydney route – the Warwick and Chelmsford Stakes – before he won the Hill Stakes. He was then a last start fifth to Seville in the Metropolitan. Brisbane Cup winners have gone alright in this race – 2008 Brisbane Cup winner Viewed finished an extremely unlucky 10th in the Caulfield Cup in 2008 before winning the race in 2009, while Tullamore (2011) and Lights of Heaven (2012) have gone on to finish third in the Caulfield Cup to complement their Brisbane Cup successes. On face value, he was disappointing in the Metropolitan, although they went fairly slowly and he was not suited. That said, this is no easier and I’m not quite sure he measures up to some of these, especially at 2400m. Place at best, and he’s one I’ll include for third in my trifectas just in case given the good record of Brisbane Cup winners.

11. MY QUEST FOR PEACE (4)My Quest For Peace

Jockey: Corey Brown
Trainer: Peter Moody
Weight: 55kg
Luxbet’s odds (as of October 19, 8:30am): $31
Predicted finish: 17th

Last year’s Caulfield Cup fifth placegetter who has had six starts since, the best of those a very good seventh to Epaulette in the Doomben 10000. This preparation, he’s failed to flatter over unsuitable distances, finishing 12th in the Memsie Stakes and 10th in the Underwood Stakes. He hasn’t been beaten far, only four lengths in the Underwood. But he hasn’t shown much, but it’s impossible to get any guide for how he is going. In the Underwood Stakes, he was one of only two horses to disappoint me in the race in that they noticeably went backwards – the other was Ethiopia, who I considered a forgive run. To an extent, we’re relying on the comments of OTI’s Terry Henderson and Simon O’Donnell, who say they have tried different techniques to get him to fire. We won’t know whether they’ve worked until 5:50pm on Saturday. That said, from what I’ve seen this preparation. I still feel as though they are trying to work him out, and until he shows something more, I’m happy to overlook.

12. HAWKSPUR (14)Hawkspur

Jockey: Jim Cassidy
Trainer: Chris Waller
Weight: 54.5kg
Luxbet’s odds (as of October 19, 8:30am): $5
Predicted finish: 4th

The current favourite for the Caulfield Cup, he was still a maiden this time last year. He went through the grades in the autumn, but it was as a late three year old in Queensland that he really blossomed. He won the Rough Habit Plate, the Grand Prix Stakes and the Queensland Derby in three consecutive starts, all by big margins. From a non-winner, he looked almost a bit arrogant. He returned with a satisfactory seventh in the Warwick Stakes, but it was in the Chelmsford Stakes that he stamped himself as a legitimate Cups contender. If his Queensland wins had been arrogant, this was something else. He made some good Sydney gallopers look second rate as he raced away under hands and heels. At his next start, he was favourite but was slightly one paced when fourth in the George Main. Last start, he finished fifth in the Turnbull Stakes in one of the best Caulfield Cup trials you will see. Coming from last, he raced in restricted room but still flew home along the fence. Another few strides, he would have challenged Happy Trails. Not only does he look the one they clearly have to beat, his jockey Jimmy Cassidy will be aiming to reach 100 Group 1 winners. There are few better riders in a staying race, and there’s no doubt he will be tough to beat. Big chance.

13. JULIENAS (13)Julienas

Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy
Trainer: Gai Waterhouse
Weight: 54.5kg
Luxbet’s odds (as of October 19, 8:30am): $21
Predicted finish: 14th

Julienas comes to Melbourne off a Sydney campaign which saw him win the Colin Stephen Quality, when he was able to control the speed and dominate his rivals, and a narrow second in The Metropolitan, also after he’d controlled the speed and cruelled the chances of many other leading fancies. In fact, I’d suggest he’s one dimensional, in that he needs to be on the speed to have any chance. The only exception he’s shown to that rule in Australia was in the Wyong Cup last year, when he came from fourth. It is that one dimensional nature which I think will prove his undoing today, as there looks to be a fair amount of pace engaged. Glencadam Gold will kick up from underneath him, while Mr O’Ceirin is likely to cross and force the pace. I can see him being rather wide out of the straight, and from there, it’s tough to win. Not one of mine.

14. MR O’CEIRIN (17)Mr O'Ceirin

Jockey: Dwayne Dunn
Trainer: Ciaron Maher
Weight: 54.5kg
Luxbet’s odds (as of October 19, 8:30am): $41
Predicted finish: 13th

The Grafton Cup winner gained ballot exemption by winning the Naturalism Stakes four weeks ago. Glen Boss stole the Naturalism, dictating the tempo from on speed, but I don’t think Dwayne Dunn will be able to do the same today. From his very wide gate, he’s going to have to press forward and attack for the lead, which is never the ideal scenario in a Caulfield Cup – unless you are Might and Power. His last run in the Turnbull Stakes wasn’t bad at all, he wasn’t beaten far, but it’s unlikely he’ll get all the favours today. I have been slightly blinkered with this horse as my good friend Jacinta straps him, and I’ve visited him at the stables a couple of times. In fact, we visited him yesterday, and he looked outstanding – not an ounce of excess on him, he looked remarkably fit. While I’d be cheering if he won, I don’t think he’ll measure up here and so I’ll be risking.

15. SILENT ACHIEVER (5)Silent Achiever

Jockey: Glen Boss
Trainer: Roger James
Weight: 54.5kg
Luxbet’s odds (as of October 19, 8:30am): $8
Predicted finish: 1st

I love this Kiwi mare, who has been aiming at this race ever since her three year old days when she won the New Zealand Derby and finished third, a head behind Ocean Park, in the Rosehill Guineas. Her entire four year old career was designed to have her ready for today. She had a light spring last year, winning the Crystal Mile on Cox Plate day before a disappointing fourth in the Matriarch Stakes. During the autumn, she finished a close up fourth in the Chipping Norton Stakes, a so-so fifth in the Ranvet Stakes and a fantastic second in The BMW when she charged late from last. She then went on to finish fourth in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, only two lengths off It’s A Dundeel and a length and a half from Happy Trails at weight for age. This spring, she has had the perfect preparation for a Caulfield Cup. She never, ever saw daylight in the Memsie Stakes, going to the line under a throttlehold. She finished sixth in that weird Underwood Stakes, before hitting the line hard and peaking on her run late when sixth in the Turnbull Stakes. The run of Hawkspur was more visually impressive, but he had the dream run through while she had to come around them. She’s drawn well, as it gives her jockey Glen Boss plenty of options. She’s exactly what I look for in a Caulfield Cup hope, and I expect her to be right in the mix. She’s a top chance.

16. ROYAL DESCENT (3)Royal Descent

Jockey: Nash Rawiller
Trainer: Chris Waller
Weight: 54kg
Luxbet’s odds (as of October 19, 8:30am): $7.50
Predicted finish: 6th

Bonny mare who won the Australian Oaks by 10 lengths at her one start at this trip. Given she beat, among others, a Crown Oaks winner (Dear Demi), a Queensland Oaks winner (Gondokoro), a New Zealand Derby winner (Habibi) and a New Zealand Oaks winner (More Than Sacred), it was a tidy effort. This preparation looked to be building up nicely before her last start, with Royal Descent finishing second in the Toy Show Quality, a slashing third in the Tramway Handicap and a top notch second in the George Main Stakes. All looked in readiness for her to produce her best in Melbourne…except she struck severe interference shortly after the start, before she was buffeted a number of times throughout the race. It was hardly a guide to her chances on Saturday. Can she win? Of course she can, if she was to run up to her Australian Oaks performance. The draw should assist her to gain a good position. However, she is not one any analyst can be supremely confident about given her last start troubles, and for that I’ll probably include her in exotics only. Hard to assess, but definitely some chance.

17. TUSCAN FIRE (2)Tuscan Fire

Jockey: Michael Walker
Trainer: Dan O’Sullivan
Weight: 53.5kg
Luxbet’s odds (as of October 19, 8:30am): $61
Predicted finish: 16th

Former jumper who gained his ticket into this race with a dominant victory in the Mornington Cup in February. Shocked almost everyone at his first run this preparation when he came from nearly last to win over 1400m at Flemington at $101. Since then, his preparation has come along slowly – he was far from disgraced when finishing just over four lengths from Foreteller in the Makybe Diva Stakes, he ran well off a slow tempo in the Naturalism Stakes, before a disappointing effort last start in the Turnbull Stakes. He has won all three starts at the 2400m, but he is yet to win at Caulfield and he looks a rung or two below most of these. Probably needed to show more in the Turnbull Stakes for him to be considered. Not for me.

18. DEAR DEMI (18)Dear Demi

Jockey: James McDonald
Trainer: Clarry Conners
Weight: 53kg
Luxbet’s odds (as of October 19, 8:30am): $26
Predicted finish: 10th

Crown Oaks winner last year who is probably the iron horse of the four year old crop. She had a bumper three year old season, racing in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane throughout the year. Both in the spring and the autumn, her best runs came second up (both over 1400m too, when she won the Furious Stakes and the Surround Stakes) and then she peaked again later in the preparation – at her seventh run in the spring, she won the Crown Oaks, and at her sixth run in the autumn/winter, she won the Doomben Roses. This suggests to me her peak is still further down the track, perhaps in the Melbourne Cup. This preparation, true to form, she ran a satisfactory seventh in the Let’s Elope Stakes first up before a slashing third to It’s A Dundeel and Atlantic Jewel in the Underwood Stakes. That was as good a run as you’ll see, but given how well she goes second up, it’s perhaps not that surprising. Last start, she finished eighth, beaten two and three quarter lengths, in the Turnbull Stakes, with Craig Williams easing her right down late. The outside barrier will make it tough for her, no matter where she settles. I’ll be looking elsewhere today, but it wouldn’t overly surprise to see her end up in the placings if James McDonald can give her the perfect ride. Not for me though.

19. FORGOTTEN VOICE

Scratched

20. SNEAK A PEEK

Scratched

21. IBICENCO

Scratched

22. OASIS BLOOM

Scratched

SUMMARY

As always, it’s a very open Caulfield Cup and in all honesty, anything could win and it wouldn’t surprise too much. I think SILENT ACHIEVER has had the perfect preparation for the Caulfield Cup. She has been coming along nicely and I’m happy to have her on top. JET AWAY may be a query in terms of fitness, but he showed all the right signs in the Turnbull Stakes and he must be included. I do think MR MOET is the outsider capable of causing an upset, and I’ll be having something on him each way, while HAWKSPUR is a justified Caulfield Cup favourite and cannot be knocked. Next best ETHIOPIA.

NUMBERS

15 – SILENT ACHIEVER
8 – JET AWAY
6 – MR MOET
12 – HAWKSPUR

RECOMMENDED TRIFECTA

6, 8, 12, 15/3, 6, 8, 12, 15/2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 16 = 89.29% for $100

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