ENGLAND TO LAND MELBOURNE CUP: Daqman backs the English raid on the Melbourne Cup, though spots a local trainer who clearly has the race in his sights. Meanwhile, there’s a double whammy at Kempton this afternoon.
Not a word about the real star. New names emerged for Guineas and Derby from French and Irish trials yesterday – Nephrite, French Fifteen and Bonfire – but no ‘mench’ of the colt that was, collaterally, the star of the day.
French Fifteen, comfortable winner of the Saint-Cloud Criterium International, was absolutely flattened by the Godolphin winner of the Prix Thomas Bryon just over three weeks ago. He beat French Fifteen pulling up, a heavily-gambled-on favourite.
My bet is that we’ll see the colt, a US-bred called Abtaal, sent to England by Sheikh Hamdan to be trained for the Guineas. You read it here first.
3.10 Kempton I’ve had a stinking weekend, due to the emergence of young stars under a different set of rules: the jumpers are always hard to fathom at this time of year; who would have bet that Weird Al would waltz all over the known form. Too weird.
Today’s Graduation Chase should also be finding us new stars but it’s a flop. And, for whatever reason, it’s three times a flop.
Ok, ‘give it time’ was a reasonable view when only four turned up for the inaugural running two years ago. Just six last year and the warning bells should have sounded.
Instead, they’re spending £20,000 on a three-horse race this afternoon. My second bet of the day is that the ‘event’ will continue as Authority tries to prove itself right and everybody else wrong. Maybe yet another (inevitable) bad decision on the Levy – due tonight – will ensure that the money is better spent.
My third bet is that Somersby – though miles clear on the ratings – could well get turned over: his yard hasn’t had a winner for 215 days and he hasn’t scored since December, 2009. In fact, as first past the post, he’s beaten only seven horses in three years.
With Ruby Walsh tempted back after only one ride here in the last 10 days (a winner, Fistral Beach), mindful that the slap-down-the-neck whips ban is reconsidered on Thursday, I shall definitely be supporting Aiteen Thirtythree and laying the odds-on favourite.
Trainer Paul Nicholls stable-tour prognosis was that his seven-year-old should improve a lot; it’s hardly Newtonian physics to assume that, even though his target is the Hennessy, he could have the legs off the always-one-paced Somersby on today’s good ground.
Somersby’s form after a long break is 4123, and his figures when the ground is better than soft is 4131203. This corresponds to Aiteen Thirtythree’s 3211 and 12111P respectively.
04.00 Tuesday (Melbourne Cup) They don’t call them stalls -they’re ‘barriers’ – but they are vital to the result of the ‘race that stops a nation.’
Only one horse in the last decade has won from a stall – sorry ‘barrier’ – higher than 14. Going right back to the start of the Eighties, that stat becomes five out of 22.
Potentially struggling then from wide barriers are last year’s (first ever) French winner, Americain, the ex-Stoute-trained Glass Harmonium, Luca Cumani’s Manighar, Mark Johnston’s Fox Hunt, Ed Dunlops’ Red Cadeaux, the Brian Ellison pair, Moyenne Corniche and Saptapadi, and the former British actress Gai Waterhouse’s Older Than Time.
But Gai has Tullamore well drawn in 12; Cumani has Drunken Sailor in 8; and Johnston saddles Jukebox Jury from 6.
Silvestre De Sousa has probably given away the English jockeys’ title to partner Fox Hunt but he rode the horse to his Royal Ascot and German St Leger successes, and Neil Callan deserves to hold on to Jukebox Jury (two wins from three rides), though Johnny Murtagh rode him to capture the Irish St Leger. Neither will be inconvenienced by the softish surface.
Dunaden (barrier 13) has looked good for this race as winner of the Geelong Cup and he’s twice beaten Americain this year.
But I note that Cumani had a ‘look see’ at the Geelong, running old-timer Bauer, who got third, within a length and a half of Dunaden. Moreover Dunaden (9th) and Americain (10th) were slaughtered by Jukebox Jury, albeit in a slowly run race for the Prix Kergorlay, with Manighar fourth and Red Cadeaux fifth.
Manighar was again fourth, behind Tullamore (3rd), who now has the better barrier, with Lucas Cranach fifth and Drunken Sailor seventh (both ‘better for race’) in the Caulfield Cup.
Robert Hickmott, trainer of the runner-up that day, now prefers to run At First Sight and Mourayan (narrowly beaten in another trial, the Mackinnon Stakes with The Verminator behind).
Don’t say you’ve never heard of them: Mourayan once ran second to Sea The Stars when trained by John Oxx and At First Sight was runner-up in Workforce’s Derby.
So it is that my super seven for this reads At First Sight, Drunken Sailor, Dunaden, Jukebox Jury, Lucas Cranach, Mourayan and Tullamore. I would add American Group-1 winner Unusual Suspect if I thought the ground would dry out.
I’m taking out those who’ve had a lot of racing, which leaves me At First Sight, Dunaden, Jukebox Jury and Lucas Cranach as fresher than most, well drawn and – in particular At First Sight and Lucas Cranach – primed for the race.
In choosing Jukebox Jury and At First Sight, I’m writing headlines in advance: De Sousa loses jockeys’ title as stablemate beats him at Flemington (Jukebox Jury); rider wins Melbourne Cup after tossing a coin to see who gets the mount (At First Sight). It’s not rocket science, this game, is it!
BET 10pts win (nap) BEYOND (2.40 Kempton)
DOUBLE WHAMMY: LAY to win 10pts SOMERSBY and 10pts win AITEEN THIRTYTHREE (3.10 Kempton)
BET 4pts win STARSTUDDED (4.30 Wolverhampton)
WIN-30 JACKPOT (Tuesday): 2.7pts win JUKEBOX JURY and 2.3pts win AT FIRST SIGHT (04.00 Flemington)
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