The Caulfield Cup (2400m) is one of the great races on the calendar and this year the race favourite Johannes Vermeer could help an Irishman equal a world record.
Ballydoyle’s champion trainer Aidan O’Brien needs one more elite level win to equal the record for Group 1 wins in a calendar year, of 25, held by the late Bobby Frankel.
Johannes Vermeer stormed into favouritism with a fast-finishing second to Gailo Chop in the Caulfield Stakes. The stallion is rated $11 for the Melbourne Cup, but that price will tumble if he can win on Saturday.
This year’s Cup field contains stayers from here and abroad and the best of the local hopes appears to be topweight Humidor, prepared by Melbourne based Aussie champ’ Darren Weir.
Let’s have a look at the field in more detail and find us a winner of the richest 2400m handicap in the world.
Humidor ($6.50): Won the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) before last start third to Winx in the Turnbull Stakes (2000m). No doubting he is a quality beast, but several concerns. He wanted to lay in all the way up the straight last start and he probably should have worked home stronger. He has some positive gear changes, which may help his waywardness. He was second to Jameka over 2400m in the BMW, but is yet to win beyond 2000m, but gives the impression it should not trouble.
Marmelo ($19): British stayer having his first Australian start. Latest run on August 20 he beat three other runners to win the group 2 Prix Kergolay (3000m) at Deauville France. Lightly raced five-year-old entire and in the money in eight of 10 starts. Hugh Bowman a plus, but this run could top him off for the Melbourne Cup.
Johannes Vermeer ($4.00 favourite): This five-year-old entire is prepared by champion Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien. He turned in an eye-catching run when second to Gailo Chop in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m). Prior to coming to Australia he lumped 62kg and was second in a 2414m race in Ireland. Last Saturday’s run should top him off nicely, he’s perfectly drawn (2) and has won before off a seven day back-up.
Jon Snow ($11): Won the Australian Derby 2400m earlier this year and has had a solid prep’ for this. Followed win at Moonee Valley with third to Gailo Chop last Saturday. He took time to cross from a wide gate and had to work early and did all the chasing from the 600m. Tired late, but was entitled too and didn’t shirk the task. A rain-affected track would boost his chances.
That was some Caulfield Cup trial from Johannes Vermeer, can he back up? Jon Snow, Single Gaze both good from a Caulfield Cup viewpoint
— Andrew Hawkins (@AndrewNJHawkins) October 14, 2017
He’s Our Rokkii ($126): Not racing well enough to trouble these and wide draw will make it even tougher.
Sir Isaac Newton ($67): Imported stayer that comes into the race with four Australian starts behind him. He overraced in the early part and finished well back behind Winx in the Turnbull. The step-up to 2400m could suit and the addition of ear-muffs might help him settle, but he does have a lot of improvement to make up.
Ventura Storm ($12): Yet another European import, having his second prep for the Hayes/Dabernig stable. He is a winner to 2500m and there was a lot to like about his second behind Winx in the Turnbull. He did have the gun run, but he lengthened strongly when asked and will have taken improvement from his third start after a spell and jockey Damien Oliver chases his fifth Cup.
Wicklow Brave ($46): This nine-year-old finished 22nd in last year’s Melbourne Cup and won an Irish hurdle since then. A grand campaigner that will struggle on recent European form.
Inference ($15): He won the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) earlier this year, but is yet to find winning form as a four-year-old. He does drop 4.5kgs after a fifth to Gailo Chop, which is a plus. He is a bit one-paced so the step-up to 2400m, combined with blinkers for the first time, could switch him on and work in his favour.
Single Gaze ($34): Fifth, fourth, fourth in her last three Group 1 appearances. She is a super honest mare whacked away behind Gailo Chop last start in the Caulfield Stakes (2000m). She will race on speed and seeing out a solid 2400m might test her.
Bonneval ($8.00): She won six races in a row, claiming three Group 1’s along the way, NZ Oaks (2400m), ATC Oaks (2400m) and Underwood Stakes (2000m). Blotted her copybook last start when she didn’t fire for sixth to Gailo Chop. She did pull up lame and with some cuts to here legs, which is an obvious concern on a seven day back-up.
Hardham ($46): finished fourth in the ATC Derby behind Jon Snow in the autumn. Followed Flemington win with second this track in Handicap grade over 2000m. Facing much tougher opposition and needs to make massive improvement.
Boom Time ($51): Raced on speed and battled away for fourth to Lord Fandango in the Group 2 Herbert Power, this track and distance. Group 1 looks a little beyond him at this stage
Abbey Marie ($23): She was never a threat behind Gailo Chop in the Caulfield Stakes. She picked-up some ground in the straight so 2400m might be a positive, but hard to recommend on current form.
Harlem ($10): Former French stayer having second prep’ for Hayes/Dabernig. Fourth-up and he loomed up at the 400m, but found little when fifth to Amelie’s Star in the Group 3 Bart Cummings (2500m). Blinkers go on, which might help this entire get his mind on the job.
Amelie’s Star ($9.00): Sat fourth and enjoyed perfect run before peeling out and running away with the Bart Cummings (2500m). Wide gate makes it harder this time, but hard to knock winning form and gets in with 51kgs.
Lord Fandango ($23): He could not have been more impressive when won the Group 2 Herbert Power, this track and distance last start. Won the Benalla Cup prior to that, so he is in great form. He also carries just 51kgs, which is a 3kg drop on last start.
Sportsbet Caulfield Cup 2017 Tips
Best: Johannes Vermeer, Humidor, Ventura Storm.
Value: Amelie’s Star.