Champion jockey and Australian hall of fame member Jim ‘Jimmy’ Johnson has died at the age of 92.
Racing Victoria, the Victorian Jockeys’ Association and the Victoria Racing Club each acknowledged the sadness of the occasion and paid homage to the decorated hoop.
Johnson was a three-time Melbourne Cup-winning jockey, having been successful on Gatum Gatum in 1963 and also in 1968 and 1969 on Rain Lover.
Johnson was also associated with champion Tobin Bronze aboard who he won a Caulfield Cup and two Cox Plates.
Johnson won four Adelaide jockeys’ premierships before he relocated to Melbourne where he was champion jockey in 1966-67.
He rode in Singapore from 1970 to 1973, winning the jockeys’ title there in 1972 and 1973.
When he retired in 1976, he had ridden 2,158 winners and claimed his place as one of the greats of Australian racing.
Johnson was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame in 2009.
Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson said Johnson was an exceptional jockey.
“Jimmy was a popular member of the racing community, a true gentleman and great ambassador for our sport long after his incredible success in the saddle.
“He was an active and passionate supporter of the racing industry in retirement as a regular face on the Melbourne Cup Tour and attendee at hall of fame functions.”
Thanks for stopping by and checking this news update regarding “News in the City of Melbourne titled “Jockey Jim Johnson, who won three Melbourne Cups, two Cox Plates and a Caulfield Cup, dies aged 92”. This news article was presented by MyLocalPages Australia as part of our local events & news services.
Terbium was not meant to be at Caulfield on Saturday when trainer Phillip Stokes formulated a program for the talented gelding.
After showing he was back to his best with a stunning win at Gawler on December 19 when resuming, the five-year-old was to have been given more time before his next outing.
But Terbium has thrived since the five-length triumph, prompting a rethink and a trip back to Melbourne earlier than expected.
“We weren’t originally going to run him this close to his first-up win at Gawler,” Stokes said. “But (assistant trainer and son) Tommy and the team were so happy with him back in Adelaide, we decided to send him over early.
“I’d not seen him for a while, but he looks great and I’m sure is ready to run another nice race.
“He has done so well since the first-up run and this looks a nice race for him. He has got a bit of weight, but he seems to carry it.”
A Group 3 winner at Caulfield at just his fourth run in his first campaign, Terbium struggled to reproduce that form until the emphatic win last month following a 24-week spell.
Stokes said Terbium had gone from a Strathalbyn maiden win to Group 3 success in one preparation and then lost his way after he turned four.
“It happens to a lot of them,” he said. “He had that decent spell and has matured a bit more.”
Terbium opened as TAB favourite ($3.10) for the Benchmark 84 race over 1100m (Race 8 at 5.20pm) and there has already been support. Jamie Mott has the mount and he will carry topweight of 60kg.
The Victorian campaign may be only short, however, if Terbium runs well.
Stokes is considering returning him to Adelaide for the Durbridge Stakes over 1100m at Morphettville on January 30. The WFA challenge has been run in October, but was moved to January and the distance reduced from 1200m.
“We might send him back to Adelaide for something like the Durbridge, or he could stay here,” Stokes said. “We have a few options.”
Stokes also has last-start Wodonga maiden winner Arlark Mofeed, Moeen and Heyington Station engaged at Caulfield.
Moeen is third up from a spell in a benchmark 64 race over 1400m and Heyington Station rises to a benchmark 70 over 1200m after resuming from a 21-week spell with a Moonee Valley win over the same distance.
Michael Poy has retained the ride on Heyington Station.
With Flemington’s traditional January 1 meeting attracting the better summer sprinters and stayers the first Saturday meeting of the new year at Caulfield has, not surprisingly, something of a mundane look.
But there are nine races on the card, and there will be nine winners; with a dozen or more runners scheduled to contest each event there are likely to be a fair few longshots making the frame or getting their heads in front, making it a trappy day for punters.
Is Price right?
Royal Ascot winners are no longer that uncommon in Australian racing, with the number of horses being bought from Europe growing each year.
And the Tom Dabernig-Ben Hayes stable will be looking to one such import, Biometric, to make his mark when he contests Caulfield’s 1400-metre Travis Stillman Handicap on Saturday with three-kilogram-claiming apprentice Will Price in the saddle.
Half the battle when it comes to picking the Melbourne Cup winner is lining up formlines from Australia and abroad — and it can get tricky.
We’re here to help, with this in-depth look at some of the best lead-up runs towards the big 3200m handicap.
Watch the Melbourne Cup LIVE on Racing.com, available on Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
MELBOURNE CUP DAY LIVE: FOLLOW ALL THE ACTION HERE
ESSENTIAL MELBOURNE CUP READING
COREY BROWN’S MELBOURNE CUP CHEAT SHEET: TWO-TIME WINNER’S ULTIMATE FORM GUIDE
BIG BETS: THE MONSTER BETS YOU NEED TO SEE BEFORE MAKING YOUR MELBOURNE CUP PICK
MEGA FORM GUIDE: EVERY RUNNER ANALYSED AND TIPS
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PAST 20 MELBOURNE CUP WINNERS
Best Cup lead-up runs
2020 CAULFIELD CUP (Oct 17, 2400m) – Verry Elleegant (1st), Anthony Van Dyck (2nd), The Chosen One (3rd), Prince Of Arran (4th), Finche (5th), Avilius *6th), Mustajeer (8th), Warning (12th), Vow And Declare (15th), Dashing Willoughby (18th)
Despite internationals turning this race’s traditions on their heads, the Caulfield Cup each year remains probably the most important guide to the big one.
Watch for Verry Elleegant winning, running strongly and finishing on better than Anthony Van Dyck. The big query is whether she can go an extra 800m, for the first time, especially since she tends to race aggressively. Watch her throwing her head around leaving the home straight the first time – a sign she wants to go but the jockey’s fighting to settle her down and stay back. You need to settle calmly in the Big Cup, a challenge for her from her awkward gate 15. Anthony Van Dyck loomed up to win but didn’t quite have as powerful a finish. After the post he stops a lot quicker than Verry Elleegant as well. That shows he’ll be fitter for that run. You might prefer he took that extra fitness into another 2400m trip, rather than going beyond it for the first time, and with 800m more metres to cover, but these European horses can surprise us with their capacity to do distance leaps like that. It’s the way they’re trained. The Chosen One was a surprise at long odds, but can he over-achieve like that again? His best 3200m form is a second in this year’s Sydney Cup, a far weaker race than this. Prince Of Arran and Finche probably turned in the two best Cup trials. Prince Of Arran had to ease back from a wide alley and powered home, as he does. He has a far better gate now – 1 – from which his rider can take up a good spot, not too far back. Finche sticks out as he was first in the three-wide lane, meaning not only did he cover extra ground, he had to race without “cover”, the helpful smother you get when a horse shields you from breeze, or a slipstream effect (for motor racing fans). He’s also huge, and so much better suited to the long stretches of the roomy Flemington, whereas Caulfield is a far tighter little track, which doesn’t suit his size or running style. Watch him grind away. He doesn’t really have a sprint, and he’s got a far longer straight and gentler home bend at Flemington to gradually build his pace. Avilius turned in a very decent trial, having to ease back early then having not much luck or clear running in the straight. Mustajeer wasn’t bad for an old bloke. Warning, Vow And Declare and Dashing Willoughby are the ones who emerge from this with report cards they wouldn’t want to show their parents. On top of everything else, you know Prince Of Arran and Finche can run out a strong 3200m, which is a massive head start on Tuesday. They’re also fairly lightly weighted.
COX PLATE (Moonee Valley, Oct 24, 2040m) – Sir Dragonet (1st), Russian Camelot (3rd)
Some horses come through Cox Plates and win the Cup, but it can be tricky. It’s a challenging rise of 1200m from one run to the next, with Cox Plates generally run at a far different tempo, therefore possibly not suiting horses who’d prefer the rhythm of the 3200m Cup. Plus, the Cox Plate is weight-for-age, favouring the best horses, and this is a handicap, supposedly bringing them back to the field to even things out. That said, Sir Dragonet was hugely impressive in winning this event for big race king Glen Boss, who’s aboard again on Tuesday. The big query comes from the track though. It wasn’t just a soft 7, it played a bit strange, heavier in parts than others. (Humidor, for example, usually handles the wet, but couldn’t go a yard in it this day). So, Sir Dragonet was backed right in once the state of the track became apparent, since his wet record is far better than his dry. And he won very well, as that support would suggest. His price for the Melbourne Cup, however, has steadily got longer as it’s become apparent it will be a dry track. His longest win is 2505m, his longest run a fourth over 2922m. Russian Camelot, however, looks equally good in wet or dry. He’s been the young sensation of the year and looks like he’ll be able to stay a Melbourne Cup trip, having won the South Australian Derby very impressively over 2500m. Hard to knock him on this run. He had to work hard without cover for stretches of the race yet boxed on very well in the home straight. His pedigree suggests he’ll get the trip, and he’s English-bred, which means while he’s listed as a four-year-old down here he’s really only three-and-a-half. His form against older horses so far, therefore, augurs well for a bright future. Is he quite enough of the finished article needed to win a Melbourne Cup though?
Tiger Moth bolts away with this Group 3 race in Ireland. It was a decent field on a good (dry) track. The horse he runs past in the straight – Cormorant – had won a G3 two starts before. Buckhurst ran fifth, was deemed good enough for an Australian campaign, and ran a fair seventh in the Caulfield Cup. Tiger Moth hasn’t been beyond this 2400m trip, but dances away from them in a manner suggesting he’ll handle 3200m, especially considering the way they train them over there – putting far more miles into their legs in trackwork than Australians do. And his master trainer Aidan O’Brien wouldn’t have sent him to Australia if he didn’t think he could stay the journey. This will be only his fifth start in a race, but because of that he’s in with light weight of just 52.5kg. He’s got a shocking barrier in 23 though. Even though the light weight will help his jockey jostle for a good position, you’re hoping he’ll overcome the gate, and handle the 800m rise in trip. At least without a crowd at Flemington he shouldn’t get too stirred up.
2019 MELBOURNE CUP (Nov 5, 2019, 3200m) – Vow And Declare (1st), Master Of Reality (2nd then 4th on protest), Prince Of Arran (3rd then 2nd), Surprise Baby (5th), Finche (7th), Steel Prince (9th)
This could count as a bit ancient history, as some horses who peaked a year ago might not have come back up to that level, such as Vow And Declare. But to reassure yourself of the big question mark in Melbourne Cups – can they run out two miles – check the runs of the other five listed above. Master Of Reality did it tough in the death seat – outside the leader with no cover – and still battled on well, though growing understandably tired and wobbling about at the finish. This helped Prince Of Arran be promoted from third to second after a protest (from the squeezed-out fourth horse across the line). Surprise Baby was hooked back from a wide gate, but got way too far back, yet powered home in an enormous run. It’s also noteworthy that Craig Williams rode the winner here, but has since switched to gain the ride on Surprise Baby this Tuesday. Finche looks like he had every chance, but the slow tempo didn’t let him have his favoured flowing-along racing pattern. Steel Prince was OK. Black marks for Twilight Payment, The Chosen One, and Mustajeer. (NOTES: Surprise Baby doesn’t bob up in any more of these videos. That’s because, slightly unusually for other horses but not him, he hasn’t raced since October 3, it was over the 2000m of the Turnbull Stakes, and you can forget that run in any case, since he was bottled up behind horses in the straight and had no luck in coming 9th.)
GEELONG CUP (Geelong, Oct 21, 2400m) – Steel Prince (1st), King Of Leogrance (3rd), Ashrun (4th)
Steel Prince wins this in fairly strong, clinical style. He’s that no-fuss sort of grinding stayer who should have the right mindset for travelling well in a Melbourne Cup, in which he raced fairly last year. He wins, but he had all the favours in transit, sitting third with cover before unleashing in the straight, where he ran past horses probably still rising towards peak fitness. Like King Of Leogrance, who battled home fairly in third, but whose finish didn’t exactly hint that he’s crying out for an extra 800m. Plus, while this race has often been a good form guide to the Big Cup, this year’s wasn’t a strong edition. Only nine horses, and not exactly bursting with quality. On the upside for the quality component, Ashrun ran fourth at his first start in Australia, then came out and won the Hotham Stakes on Derby Day to earn his spot in the Cup. Still, this path to Flemington could be called the low road, whereas the classier trial came through the Caulfield Cup.
HOTHAM STAKES (Flemington, Oct 31, 2500m) – Ashrun (1st)
Here’s that Hotham run from Ashrun. It was fairly impressive, since he didn’t begin well and had to be mustered up to tack on at the rear leaving the home straight the first time. He did take a long time to haul in the leader and just win by a nose, but he did keep coming, and was placed second twice over 3000m in decent company in France before coming out here. Again though, question marks over the depth of the opposition in this race. None of his rivals is in on Tuesday. And there’s the three-day back-up required by those who gain the last ticket into the Cup by winning the Hotham. You might be happy to take on those question marks and still back him. Plus, he drops a massive eight kilos from 61kg on Saturday, which did make it harder for him to finally run down the leader. But on top of any form doubts, he’s drawn barrier 24 for Tuesday. They rarely win from there.
THE BART CUMMINGS (Flemington, Oct 3, 2510m) – Persan (1st), Steel Prince (3rd)
Persan has gone up several levels since being transferred from Sydney to Victoria early this year. Before that, he’d been placed once from nine career starts. Since then, he’s won six of 10, with four placings, albeit in far lower class than a Melbourne Cup. This was his longest race to date, and you couldn’t fault it at all. He runs on the inside of other horses up the straight, which a lot of horses don’t like to do (they’d rather fly down the outside in the open spaces). So, good guts marks for digging deep up the inside to shake off other challengers. And once free of them and balanced up, he powers to the line very well in the last 100m. Steel Prince battled home gamely and later won the Geelong Cup. The form was verified by second horse Sound running second narrowly to Ashrun in Saturday’s Hotham. But again, there’s a bit of a quality question mark, as to the level of horses Persan beat. Still, you can only beat what’s put against you, and Persan’s a very game up-and-comer. Drops four kilos to a featherweight 51kg on Tuesday, and interesting that he hasn’t raced for a month since The Bart Cummings, so he certainly won’t be burnt out. That probably suits a young, developing, four-year-old like him, but you wonder if that also raises doubts about his ability to run a gut-busting 3200m. Plus he does have a shocking barrier in 20.
MOONEE VALLEY CUP (MV, Oct 24, 2500m) – Miami Bound (1st), Oceanex (3rd), Etah James (4th)
Three mares come out of the race in which Prince Of Penzance came second before winning the 2015 Melbourne Cup (at 100-1 mind you). Big tick for Miami Bound, who finally won her first race since taking out last year’s VRC Oaks over the same trip. She did get a couple of favours though. She had a lovely smothered, quiet run at the tail of the field while there was a good pace being set up front, and when the leading division understandably tired in the straight, she surged home and claimed them. Perhaps an even more meritorious run was Oceanex. Having won over 2800m at Flemington in May in a Melbourne Cup qualifying race, she had three poor runs from 1400m-2000m but then impressed here at the more suitable 2500m. She had to work hard early, sitting wide leaving the home straight the first time, and was “rewarded” for her effort by sitting in the death seat for long stretches of the race, in end battling on fairly gamely for third. Etah James, the Cup outsider, wasn’t such a bad run you know, plodding away for fourth, in an effort that underlines how this Sydney Cup winner can probably run along all day, which you need to know for a Melbourne Cup. Still, on the score of class, this race didn’t rate all that highly, and these three are probably more from the “workmanlike” local division rather than the “international big race contender” category.
CURRAGH CUP (July 18, Curragh, Ireland, 2816m) – Twilight Payment (1st), Master Of Reality (2nd)
These two provided the quinella for Australian owner Lloyd Williams, who has a knack of winning Melbourne Cups, but it’s one of those European races that provides headaches for Cup form students. Twilight Payment raced up on the pace and beat Master Of Reality comfortably, by eight lengths. In last year’s Melbourne Cup, Master Of Reality was second across the line, 3.4len ahead of Twilight Payment, who led and got the stitch and finished 11th. Twilight Payment is now an 8yo, and possibly would prefer a soft track (like the Curragh Cup) to the good surface likely for Flemington. Master Of Reality is only six and so still at his peak. Also, after this G2 Curragh Cup, Master Of Reality won his last start in a G3 over the same distance in Ireland by 3.5lens.
Stratum Albion, who’s just called Stratum back home, and Dashing Willoughby aren’t given a huge chance for Tuesday, but here’s some of their stuff. Stratum finished on strongly for second to Enbihaar, who’s a good stayer whose win here gave him five from his last seven starts. You know Stratum will get the trip, but that’s because he’s often run over hurdles, up to 4000m and the like, which is unusual for here but not so much there. You think his much-respected trainer Willie Mullins wouldn’t bring him here if he didn’t think he was a Melbourne Cup type. Mullins, after all, came second in the Melbourne Cup of 2015 with Max Dynamite, who was unlucky behind Prince Of Penzance. Stratum Albion therefore represents something of a mystery bag. Dashing Willoughby, who just plugged on for fourth, however, showed more stuff with his shocker in the Caulfield Cup two weeks back.
INSIDE WORD: WHAT KEY INSIDERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THEIR HORSE BEFORE THE MELBOURNE CUP
ULTIMATE GUIDE: NEW FAVOURITE EMERGES AFTER BARRIER DRAW DISASTER
SWEEP GENERATOR: FREE TOOL TO RUN YOUR OFFICE SWEEPS
DUMMIES’ GUIDE TO BETTING ON THE MELBOURNE CUP
WEATHER: LATEST FORECAST AND HOW IT SHOULD IMPACT YOUR PICK TO WIN
She has room to move and is as tough as nails which gives leading training Chris Waller every confidence his star mare Verry Elleegant just needs luck in running to win the Melbourne Cup.
Waller said the only unknown was the extra 800m the Caulfield Cup winner needs to travel, having stormed to victory over 2400m last month and now needing to get the 3200m of the greatest staying test in Australian racing.
The star five-year-old also collected the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) on her way to the first Tuesday in November and Waller said Verry Elleegant, who had a final workout on Monday morning, was ready to go.
“I’m as confident as you can be. There’s a lot of unknowns when you go to a Melbourne Cup,” he said on Monday about his $11 TAB chance.
“The Caulfield Cup was always great lead up form and you’d always follow the winner in to a Melbourne Cup. But things have changed a little bit with the international presence and how they train and nurture their horses.
“But she is a great chance and has come through the Cauflfield Cup very well and I think eveyrobody saw how tough she actually is. That extra 800m is the unknown but what a tough horse we’ve got. She’s won three times over 2400m in very big races, so only another 800m to go.”
Waller was happy enough with drawing barrier 15, which could give jockey Mark Zahra “options.”
“I honestly didn’t want her drawn too close because if she got caught in on the fence she can get a little bit erratic and with Mark Zahra was down there on the fence he’d have nowhere to go. At least he’s got a bit of room to move,” he said.
“She has a great turn of foot, the staying ability is there, it’s just a matter of luck in running.”
Waller also saddles up Finche, the $17 TAB chance which ran fifth in the Caulfield Cup, and seventh in last year’s Melbourne Cup.
It will be the seven-year-old son of Frankel’s third go at winning a Melbourne Cup, and Waller said this could be his best chance after drawing barrier six.
“I couldn’t be happier with the way he looks this morning,” Waller said.
“This is the best barrier draw he’s had. It’s not ideal that he has run in the Cup twice and hasn’t won. But we believe he is a genuine chance.”
Classique Legend has won the richest race in Australia, the $15 million The Everest at Royal Randwick, while Verry Elleegant was victorious in the Group One Caulfield Cup.
Trained by Les Bridge, the grey Classique Legend picked up the $6.2 million winner’s cheque, with jockey Kerrin McEvoy winning the big race for a third time, ahead of Bivouac in second place and Gytrash in third.
Nature Strip and Eduardo led the race early, and the placings stayed the same into the straight, with Eduardo holding the lead inside the 300m before McEvoy moved Classique Legend to the front, to kick clear and win easily.
This gave the 81-year-old Bridge another big win to add to his 1987 Melbourne Cup victory with Kensei.
The slot holder for Classique Legend’s place in the field was the horse’s owner Bon Ho.
Bivouac, trained by James Cummings for Godolphin, came through for second place, worth $2.3 million. Gytrash, with Jason Collett on board, rounded out the placings to win $1.4 million for connections and slot holder Inglis.
“I’ve been telling everyone for three months [it would win],” Bridge told Channel Seven after the race.
“One of my greatest friends was Persy Sykes who I spent a lot of time with. He said it is all in the genes. Some horses just get all the good genes.
“I’m just repeating his words. This horse, he has a girth on him that deep and he just has a big V8 motor. It is unbelievable.”
McEvoy said Classique Legend had a big job to do in a race that was run at a breakneck speed.
“I looked up at the 600 [metres] and they were well in front, they were off,” he said.
“I thought, ‘Far out, if Nature Strip and the companions are back to their best they are going to take a bit of running down.’
“Full credit to my horse. With that cover and soft time of it early, he was able to really power when I asked him. Soon after I was confident I would pick them up.”
In Melbourne, Chris Waller trained his first winner of the Caulfield Cup, as Verry Elleegant held off a fast-finishing Anthony Van Dyck to win the $5 million race, with The Chosen One in third.
Anthony Van Dyck came into the race with a big reputation as a winner of the English Derby.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained thoroughbred came rattling down the outside in the straight to challenge Verry Elleegant, who had hit the front ahead of The Chosen One with 250 to go.
In winning the first leg of the Melbourne spring carnival’s historic Cups double, Verry Elleegant will be one of the favourites to win the Melbourne Cup on November 3.
A win over superstar stayer Stradivarius last start obviously reads well and it was certainly no fluke. The Aidan O’Brien-trained galloper has won the G1 Epsom Derby over this trip, beating Japan, and finished 2nd to the world’s best racehorse (according to Longines’ rankings) Ghaiyyath in the G1 Coronation Cup (2414m) at Newmarket three-back. The carpark draw means he’ll probably roll forward in a race where they are unlikely to burn early. A knock on him, apart from the 58.5kg, is the fact he was beaten 14L the last time he raced outside of Europe. His class is obvious – it just comes down to whether he can bring his best form to Australia. He probably doesn’t want too much rain but a surface worse than a Soft 6 seems pretty unlikely.
TAB odds: 6.5
The Godolphin gelding is not the same horse we saw a couple of preparations ago but his form this campaign has been okay on good tracks. He was clearly the best of the closers in the G2 Chelmford Stakes (1600m) on resumption, before making no impact at all second-up over the same trip in the G1 George Main Stakes. While no match for Kolding, his 2nd in the G2 Hill Stakes (2000m) was solid for this longer journey fourth-up. A wet track would see his chances increase significantly (needs Soft 6) but his G1 record in Melbourne is a real concern (7:0-0-0).
TAB odds: 26
3. VOW AND DECLARE
Vow And Declare finished 2nd in this race last year with 52.5kg before going on to win the Melbourne Cup. He rises to 57kg this year and his form is nowhere near as strong. The O’Brien-trained gelding has been unplaced in four runs since the G1 Australian Cup (2000m) and although he was only beaten 2.8L in the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) last start, others here were much better than him in that.
TAB odds: 34
Buckhurst’s last couple don’t look great on paper but he did have 63.5kg last start and was set a task after settling well back. Prior to that he spun his wheels on a wet track at The Curragh. If you judge him on his 1.5L win over Sir Dragonet three starts back, then he has to be considered some sort of hope. His one placing over this trip came behind Norway, who hasn’t shown a great deal in Australia for Chris Waller.
TAB odds: 11
5. MIRAGE DANCER
Mirage Dancer finished 3rd in this event last year (carrying 56kg) as a $16 chance. He has mixed his form a little since then but he put his best hoof forward to take out the G1 Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick last start. A brilliant steer by Nash Rawiller certainly aided his cause there, but he still had to pull out plenty to outgun the promising Mugatoo. He handles all surfaces and is well-weighted in this. A repeat of last year’s run would see him figure in the finish and his $26 quote looks overs.
TAB odds: 17
This Australian Bloodstock import ran really well in this race last year, coming from beyond midfield to finish 6th, beaten 1.8L. He then measured up at the top level in Sydney over the autumn, finishing 2nd to Verry Elleegant (albeit a distant 2nd) in the G1 Tancred Stakes (2400m). His form since resuming looks very average on paper but he wasn’t disgraced with 58kg in The Metrop last start. Rain could lead to improvement at monster odds.
TAB odds: 71
7. VERRY ELLEEGANT
This mare was brilliant in Sydney over the autumn and she’s carried that form through to the spring. The former Kiwi took out the G1 Winx Stakes (1400m), defeating Fierce Impact who won the G1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at his next start, before encountering some traffic issues in the G1 George Main Stakes (1600m). She atoned for that unplaced effort with victory in the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) last start. The margin there was only narrow but she travelled wide on a firm deck and was certainly there to be beaten over the final 100m. The likelihood of rain falling on Saturday is massive and if the track is a Soft 5 or worse, she’s the one they have to beat.
TAB odds: 5
8. DASHING WILLOUGHBY
This Andrew Balding-trained raider won well over this trip three-back before taking out the G3 Henry II Stakes (3264m) in comfortable fashion, with Cross Counter some 12.3L away in 3rd. He finished a well-held 4th in the G2 Lonsdale Cup (3270m) last start but was only 2.5L behind brilliant stayer Enbihaar. He should be able to make the most of barrier two, with the lead up for the taking in a race lacking natural on-pacers.
TAB odds: 26
Finche endured a tough run in this race last year but battled on well for 5th, beaten 1.6L. He was off the scene for over 300 days following his 7th in the Melbourne Cup but he certainly lost nothing over the break based on his form this campaign. The Waller import resumed with a close-up 3rd in the G2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) before just missing out in a three-way finish to the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) last start. He’ll strip much fitter from that and he shouldn’t have any issues getting one-off, or leading, if Lane sends him forward from his middle draw.
TAB odds: 11
10. PRINCE OF ARRAN
The popular veteran had a brilliant spring in Melbourne last year, winning the G3 Geelong Cup (2400m) on his way to another placing in the Melbourne Cup. He was flogged in the G1 Gold Cup (4014m) two-back but warmed up nicely late to finish a distant 3rd to Enable over this distance last start. The Melbourne Cup is obviously his target race again, but he did run well in the G2 Herbert Power at this track/distance when first-up in Australia last year. The draw probably means he’ll be ridden forward.
TAB odds: 17
11. MASTER OF WINE
Master Of Wine made rapid progress in the autumn, finishing his campaign with a 4th behind Addeybb in the G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m). Unsurprisingly he came into the spring with big wraps on him but his first-up effort in the G1 Winx Stakes (1400m) was underwhelming. He was better second-up in the G1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) – better, not brilliant – before working home well for 5th in the Turnbull (2000m) last start. Verry Elleegant beat him home by 0.8L there but he meets her 2.5kg better at the weights in this. Barrier seven looks the perfect draw for him with Williams piloting.
TAB odds: 8
12. THE CHOSEN ONE
This Kiwi stayer looked set for a big campaign when he won impressively first-up at Flemington over 1700m. However, his two runs since have been poor – finishing 5.05L off Chapada in last week’s G2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m). The blinkers go back on but it’s hard to see him being a factor here.
TAB odds: 71
Last year’s Victoria Derby (2500m) winner has failed to salute the judge in eight runs since. He was a bit disappointing in Sydney but his two efforts this campaign have been encouraging. The Freedman gelding worked home well without threat in the G1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m), before catching the eye with a fast-finishing 6th in the Turnbull. He clocked the fastest final 600m/400m/200m splits and appears to be crying out for this trip. The very wide draw means he’s going to be spotting his rivals a huge start here though.
TAB odds: 21
He’s very genuine this SA galloper, finishing out of the placings just six times in his 19 starts. Two of those unplaced runs have come at his last couple, but he was only 1.9L away in the G1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) and 0.3L off Verry Elleegant in the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) last start. Pike, yet another different jockey for this horse, may follow Finche across to look for a spot in the first three of four.
TAB odds: 15
15. TRUE SELF
The OTI mare performed well in Australia last spring, finishing 2nd to Prince Of Arran in the G3 Geelong Cup (2400m) before taking out the G3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) in soft fashion. Her form since has been average, but she’s gone around in some pretty hot races. Her last-start run in the Ebor looks horrible on paper but she completely bombed the start there, so it’s worth forgiving the margin. She maps nicely from barrier four.
TAB odds: 34
Aktau won his way into this race via the Mornington Cup (2400m) earlier in the year but his two efforts since resuming have been very disappointing. The Moroney gelding was beaten out of sight in the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) and pulled up with no obvious issues. It’s pretty hard to recommend him.
17. TOFFEE TONGUE
The Waller mare has won just 1 from 12 but that was a G1 race (the SA Oaks) and she’s placed in the G1 ATC Oaks (2400m) and the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m). She surprised more than a few with her effort in the Turnbull as a $71 hope, sprinting hard late to finish a head off Verry Elleegant. She drops to just 51kg and definitely has claims if she can repeat her last-start performance. She should enjoy an economical run around midfield from barrier five.
TAB odds: 13
This Moroney gelding raced okay over the winter without setting the world on fire. Lord Belvedere had his measure a couple of times and Sasko and Sin to Win beat him home in the Listed Banjo Paterson Series Final (2600m). However, a little 77-day break has really sparked something in the 5YO, with his two runs this preparation well above what we saw last campaign. While he was visually impressive winning the G2 Herbert Power (2400m) last Saturday, that form may not be the right form this year.
TAB odds: 21
19. Raheen House — Not going well enough and will likely settle in a different postcode from the draw.
20. San Huberto — The OTI import is a Listed winner over this trip and a G2 winner over 3000m. He’s showing staying promise but he might find these a bit sharp first-up in Australia.
21. Oceanex — The Price and Kent-trained mare has only beaten a handful of runners home in three runs this preparation.
22. Le Don De Vie — Freedman import who should win races in Australia – but not this one.
This article originally appeared in punters.com.au and was reproduced with permission
Usually, the historic Caulfield Cup is a highlight for sport fans in the months in between footy and cricket.
Things are very different in Covid 2020, with the footy still on alongside the bat and ball fare, but one thing remains the same: the rush and push around 2400m at Caulfield this Saturday, for the 143rd running of Australia’s second-biggest Cup, will be compelling viewing.
We say this every year (it’s a coping mechanism in case our tips come nowhere), but this truly is one of the most open Caulfield Cups in years.
Kayo is your ticket to the best sport streaming Live & On-Demand. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
THE EVEREST ULTIMATE GUIDE: WHY EVERY HORSE CAN AND CAN’T WIN
There’s an English Derby winner at the top of the field, for heaven’s sake, which is a rare thing indeed. And he has one of those classic names that you only find in England, in Anthony Van Dyck. If he does as well as the last horse from his parts named after a famous artist – Johannes Vermeer (placed in both Caulfield and Melbourne Cups of 2017), he’ll be doing very well.
Local hopes are carried by the five-year-old mare Verry Elleegant, who has been very impressive in winning some big races in the past but could emerge from this spring as a superstar, evidenced by her ultra-tough last start win in a key lead-up to Caulfield, the 2000m Turnbull Stakes.
And there’s the usual mix of seasoned stayers and young, lightly-weighted up-and-comers – all putting their Melbourne Cup credentials on the line – to make this must-watch event, making for a powerhouse Saturday for sport lovers, what with the footy finals on in the evening.
Once again, as ever in this race, the barrier gods have played their part. Anthony Van Dyck will be forced to start from just about under the grandstand, while there was bad news also for the much-loved Prince Of Arran, last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare, and one or two others.
There might not be any crowd this year due to Covid restrictions but, as always, this highlight of the Australian racing calendar promises a heart-in-the-mouth ride.
WHAT IS IT?
The Group 1 Caulfield Cup. A handicap for three-year-olds and upwards over 2400m, or a mile-and-a-half. A key lead up for Australia’s greatest race, the 3200m Melbourne Cup, 17 days later.
Though half a mile less, Caulfield’s annual highlight is pretty gruelling itself, demanding stamina, toughness, and a finishing dash. There’s a short-ish, frenetic 300m run from the start at the top of the straight to the first of Caulfield’s three corners, so horses starting out wide will want to get across to save ground. (Despite this perceived wisdom, 12 of the past 33 winners started from barrier 10 or wider).
After passing the winning post the first time, the field turns left heading up the back of the course, where they’ll meet a small but significant incline, before turning down the “Railway Side” when the runs start coming before the real heat’s on rounding the home turn.
A capacity field of 18 has been announced, plus four emergencies in case anyone pulls out.
WHAT’S IT WORTH?
$5 million. The winner takes home $3 million, and even 10th place – worse than midfield — earns $120,000.
WHEN’S IT ON?
Race 9 of 10 on the Caulfield card on Saturday, at 5:15pm AEDT.
WHERE CAN YOU WATCH IT?
At the course of course, in leafy eastern Melbourne, or on Channel 7, Racing.com, or Sky Racing. Foxsports.com.au will have live news and updates, including video soon after the race.
European raiders versus locals again, although these days most locals were Europeans once, given the craze for importing their stayers. The exception is the NZ-bred mare Verry Elleegant; hard to spell, but very easy to watch. She’s exceptionally bred, has been good for a long time, but may have really clicked into gear this spring.
Big interest in topweight Anthony Van Dyck, a rare type in that he’s an English Derby winner brought out here to race, rather than be packed off to stud. He’ll have to be as good as they say to win from his wide gate, however.
Prince Of Arran, who’s assumed cult status after his past two visits to Australia, is here again – also trying to overcome a horror barrier draw.
In fact, there’s a plethora of chances in a very open Caulfield Cup – tough, seasoned campaigners like Mirage Dancer, Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare, mixed with up-and-comers lower in the weights like Warning, Master Of Wine and Toffee Tongue.
As usual, the time-honoured Caulfield Cup will be gripping viewing.
Newminster, in 1879
Mer de Glace, a mighty Japanese stallion who upturned all known knowledge about this race by winning from barrier 17.
Eurythmic (1920), Amounis (1930), Rising Fast (1954, 1955), Tulloch (1957), Galilee (1966), Ming Dynasty (1977, 1980), Let’s Elope (1991), Might And Power (1997), Northerly (2002).
CAULFIELD-MELBOURNE CUPS DOUBLE WINNERS
Poseidon (1906), The Trump (1937), Rivette (1939), Rising Fast (1954), Even Stevens (1962), Galilee (1966), Gurner’s Lane (1982), Let’s Elope (1991), Doriemus (1995), Might And Power (1997), Ethereal (2001).
FOREIGN WINNERS … and we don’t mean Kiwis
Taufan’s Melody (England, 1998), All The Good (England, 2008), Admire Rakti (Japan, 2014), Best Solution (2018). The race was only open to foreign horses in 1998.
BEST BARRIERS: In the past 30 years, gates three, seven and nine have won bragging rights, with each hatching four winners.
WORST BARRIER: Perverse as it sounds, it’s No.1, which hasn’t had a win since Hitler was running amok.
Ethereal Stakes – three-year-old fillies, Group 3, 2000m, 2:35pm, featuring some VRC Oaks hopefuls.
Caulfield Sprint – G2, 1000m, 3:45pm, a short sprint for all comers.
Moonga Stakes – G3, 1400m, 4:30pm, a longer sprint for all comers.
Tristarc Stakes – G2, 1400m, 5:50pm, a sprint for mares, named after a former good one, the Caulfield Cup winner of 1985.
1. ANTHONY VAN DYCK (Barrier 21). Approx odds: $6 win / $2 place.
FOR: The star foreign raider of the field, having won the English Derby over this distance last year. Comes in after winning a Group 2 over the same trip in Paris last start on September 13. Comes from the formidable Aidan O’Brien stable, the best there is in Europe, and has Hugh Bowman, rider of Winx, in the saddle. AGAINST: That barrier! Extremely hard to win from there, even if he comes in to barrier 18 if all the emergencies don’t get a run. Plus his last start win was his first in eight runs since his Derby triumph. Is a very impressive-looking stallion nonetheless, but will need luck.
2. AVILIUS (17) $34 / $8.
FOR: This French import was a big race superstar up until 12 months ago, with top-level wins from 1600m-2500m. Has gun Irish, now Australia-based, jockey John Allen in the saddle and is prepared by the superb James Cummings. Hinted at a return to form with a last-start second in a 2000m G2 at Randwick. AGAINST: The longer formline has been patchy, with that second coming in a moderate eight-horse field, and being the latest of 10 runs without a win. Also has a very tricky gate.
3. VOW AND DECLARE (18). $41 / $10.
FOR: Showed his quality by winning last year’s Melbourne Cup, which franked the form from his very impressive second in this race last year. His trainer Danny O’Brien has been winning a lot lately, and he has the master Damien Oliver in the saddle. AGAINST: The wide barrier, again, and the handicapping system. Those two fabulous runs last spring came under the light weights of 52.5kg and 52kg. Thanks to those efforts, he’s now got 57kg, which is a significant rise. He carried 61kg when sent out an odds-on “certainty” over 2600m at Flemington in April, and was most underwhelming in finishing fifth.
4. BUCKHURST (9). $14 / $4.
FOR: Has a Cinderella draw – not too wide and not too far inside – and has been ultra consistent in Ireland with four wins and three placings from his 10 starts. From the stable of Joseph O’Brien, Aidan’s son who took the Melbourne Cup with Rekindling in 2017. Has an experience top-line Melbourne jockey in Ben Melham. AGAINST: Those Irish wins were not amongst top company, with G3 his best. Has had one try at Group 1 and came last, over 2000m, although it was under 62.5kg, and he’s only for 55kg here.
5. MIRAGE DANCER (6). $26 / $5.
FOR: Quite a bit. Tough, former English stayer who debuted here with a very strong third in last year’s Caulfield Cup. Showed the benefit of two runs back from a spell in winning his last start, the G1 Metropolitan over 2600m at Randwick. That was a weaker field than this, but he attacked the finish line in eye-catching style, hinting at his best form. Good barrier, strong jockey in Craig Newitt, and the stable has been going very well. AGAINST: Could possibly get shuffled back in the field as wider-drawn horses come across, and so might need some luck to gain clear running in the straight, but as a stallion you’d expect him to be up for a fight.
6. MUSTAJEER (15). $126 / $30.
FOR: Finished sixth, not too far away, in this race last year, when had to cover extra ground after being caught wide. AGAINST: He’s eight years old now, and that Caulfield Cup run last year seems a distant memory compared with his three runs this campaign of 10th, 15th and ninth. An ordinary barrier makes things worse.
7. VERRY ELLEEGANT (11). $5.50 / $2.
FOR: This is an exceptional staying mare from New Zealand originally, who seems to have gone up again this spring, which is saying something since she won the Australian Oaks and Tancred Stakes over this trip in Sydney in the past two autumns. She showed it by winning over the less-than-ideal short distance of 1400m, again at G1, in Randwick’s Winx Stakes first up. She had excuses when fourth over 1600m after that, then won her fifth G1 in the 2000m Turnbull Stakes at Flemington last start despite being trapped wide. Good barrier, strong jockey in Mark Zahra, champion trainer in Chris Waller. AGAINST: Not a lot really; possibly the weight of 55kg. Three mares have won this since 2001, and they carried between 50-52.5. The extra weight could make a difference if she’s forced to travel wide again, which is a distinct possibility, but she’s also come back bigger and stronger this preparation, and knows how to win.
8. DASHING WILLOUGHBY (2). $21 / $5. FOR: Another of these tough, run-all-day English stayers who comes here with a strong reputation. Has an in-form local jockey in Michael Walker, and canny trainer Andrew Balding has fitted concussion plates – a kind of shock-absorbing shoe – to counter the problem of Australia’s harder tracks, which often bedevils the Europeans here. Light weight of 54.5kg helps him after 57-58.5 on his back in his past five runs. AGAINST: Stable might think him more a Melbourne Cup horse, with his last two starts over that distance for a G3 win and a G2 fourth, although he did win over 2400 three starts back, but in weaker class. Also, moves into the dreaded barrier 1 after Aktau’s scratching.
9. FINCHE (12). $12 / $3.5.
FOR: Another strong British-bred who has shown his toughness here, particularly with his fourth in the 2018 Melbourne Cup after a very difficult run, and a narrow fifth in this race last year after also being caught wide. Also showed the master Chris Waller might have trained a bit more dash into him, which is key in this race, with this two runs this campaign – both narrow thirds over 1600m at Randwick and the 2000m of Verry Elleegant’s Turnbull Stakes. Will draw enormous benefit from those two starts, his first in almost a year. Has last year’s winning jockey in Damian Lane, and a good middle barrier. AGAINST: Not a huge amount really. He’s got the same weight as last year, an undaunting 54.5kg, and while he might need some luck, like all horses in a field this big, he’s tough enough to cope with some adversity.
10. PRINCE OF ARRAN (19). $26 / $5.
FOR: This English stayer is the epitome of toughness. Is also becoming a bit of a folk hero for his brave efforts out here, notably his third and second in the past two Melbourne Cups. Missed a run as an emergency in this race last year, but has placed in both his runs at Caulfield. Has Jamie Kah aboard, and she’s in immense form as leader of the Melbourne premiership. Type of horse who never runs a bad race. AGAINST: Again the barrier gods has scorned him. Kah will need to produce some magic from there, and though the gelding doesn’t know how to quit, there’s some tough opponents in against him here.
11. MASTER OF WINE (7). $10 / $3.
FOR: English import who earned big wraps for winning four in a row, by good margins, from 1400m-2400m in Sydney last spring and autumn. Then turned in a couple of disappointing efforts but may be striking form at the right time. Was fourth, beaten less than two lengths, over 1600m at G1 level at Flemington two starts back, then stepped up to 2000m with an eye-catching fifth, beaten less than a length, in the Turnbull. Ideal barrier, canny stable in Team Hawkes, and great jockey in Craig Williams. AGAINST: Those four Sydney wins were not against top company. His last two runs have been, however. Good chance.
12. THE CHOSEN ONE (3). $81 / $20.
FOR: Won over this course and distance, beating Prince Of Arran, last year, before a decent ninth, beaten four lengths, in last year’s Caulfield Cup. Has a good barrier and a good profile for this race, being a five-year-old stallion. AGAINST: Began this preparation with a longshot win over 1700m at Flemington, under a hefty 61.5kg (he’s got 53.5kg here), but has dudded in his two runs at Caulfield since, an eighth of nine over 1800m and a seventh of nine over 2400m. Hard to have on those runs.
13. WARNING (20). $23 / $5.
FOR: Seems to have a fair profile for this as last spring’s VRC Derby winner. That can be a kiss of death, as its early-blooming winners often fail to kick on, but while this gelding hasn’t won in eight starts since, he’s been thereabouts. He’s also kept coming in his two G1 lead-up runs to this, a three-length seventh of 16 over 1600m, then pushing home strongly for sixth, beaten a length, in the Turnbull. Shrewd trainers in Anthony and Sam Freedman, and gun jockey in Luke Currie. AGAINST: As much as you can make a case for him on form, you have to close your eyes and hope for the best from his wide gate. He does tend to get back in his races though, so it might not be as big a handicap as it seems, meaning Currie could ease him back and get closer to the fence to save ground.
14. DALASAN (14). $21 / $5.
FOR: Another who performed well in the Turnbull, when fourth, beaten only a neck. Also beat Warning into third in the SA Derby last May, when second to the outstanding Russian Camelot. Decent middle gate and a light weight, but perhaps best of all he has William Pike – the Wizard from the West himself – in the saddle. Pike won four races here last Saturday, when you could’ve backed him riding a broomstick. AGAINST: Had an ideal run in transit, third the fence, from an inside gate last time. Unlikely to have the same fortune here, despite Pike’s wizardry, and you just wonder if he’s quite got the class to match up to a few of these.
15. TRUE SELF (4). $31 / $6.
FOR: A most interesting visitor to the south from Ireland. Mares seldom make the trip, and this one’s eight years old – though that’s how she’s categorised in the southern hemisphere, when she’s biologically only seven-and-a-half. Still, she’s lightly raced after just 25 starts, and her esteemed trainer Willie Mullins must have faith in her. She did look good here last year, with a second in Prince Of Arran’s Geelong Cup and an easy win as a short-priced favourite in a 2600m Flemington G3. Has a good barrier. AGAINST: Form since Melbourne last year has been poor, with her best run a sixth, beaten eight lengths, in a 2400m G3 at Cork. Many trainers are loathe to switch mares between hemispheres because they’re affected more by the reversal of seasons, and its impact on female hormones. (It’s largely why Winx never went to Englnad). Perhaps last year’s Australian jaunt had a bad impact. At least makes you wonder how this current trip might affect her.
16. AKTAU (1) $91 / $22. Scratched
17. TOFFEE TONGUE (5). $17 / $4.5.
FOR: Lightly-weighted (51kg) four-year-old mare with a very decent chance. Narrowly lost to Waller stablemate Verry Elleegant after a very impressive run in the Turnbull, a timely return to form over a more suitable distance following a fifth and and eighth after resuming from a spell. Before that, won the G1 2000m Schweppes Oaks in Adelaide in May. Good barrier. AGAINST: She’s game, but is another you worry about from a class and toughness point of view in a race like this.
18. CHAPADA (16). $23 / $5.
FOR: Is very consistent, with two wins and two second from his past five starts, and laid his claim to this win a strong win in the respected lead-up race, the 2400m Herbert Power Stakes, last Saturday. Drops three kilos to the postage-stamp 50.5 here. AGAINST: Class again, but that’s why he benefits from the light weight. Has an awkward gate but can settle back. Could have his chance to work into it in the straight, but hasn’t faced a field like this before.
19. RAHEEN HOUSE (22). $201 / $50. FOR: Gains a start due to Aktau’s scratching. AGAINST: Quite a bit, such as his last-start 10th of 11 in the 2100m Wyong Cup. And if that wasn’t enough — the barrier.
20. SAN HUBERTO (10). $41 / $8.
FOR: Bit of a dark horse this one, having his first Australian start after moving from France. Has won four races, the best of them in a G2 over 3000m at Chantilly three runs back. AGAINST: Would need to be hitting and hoping to back him in his first Australian start in a field like this. Has a shrewd trainer in Matt Cumani, but the inexperience of young jockey Fred Kersey isn’t quite as encouraging.
21. OCEANEX (8). $126 / $35.
FOR: Good barrier and good stable, and form last autumn was strong. AGAINST: Has looked ordinary since resuming in the spring, even allowing for shorter-than-ideal distances, with two 11ths and a 14th.
22. LE DON DE VIE (13). $61 / $18.
FOR: English import into the Freedman yard after a 2300m win in only fair class at Windsor last start. AGAINST: Hasn’t been in top class in England, and you’d prefer to have a look first time out here.
1. Verry Elleegant
2. Mirage Dancer
4. Master Of Wine
Trevor Marshallsea is the best-selling author of Makybe Diva and Winx – Biography of a Champion. Click on the links to purchase yours.