Here is the second installment of our Melbourne Cup Watch series.
Melbourne Cup Horses
We’re in the first proper week of March 2019, and two significant races are being contested this weekend: the Australian Cup over 2000m at Flemington, and the Auckland Cup over 3200m at Ellerslie over in New Zealand.
The Australian Cup features a raft of top Group 1 performers and former Melbourne Cup winners. The nominations so far include:
The Taj Mahal
Sound (previously Sound Check)
The issue of concern for the connections of horses will be the state of the track.
Flemington was heavily irrigated prior to last weekend’s races which started earlier in the day to avoid the hot conditions.
From a Soft 5 (after watering) it ended up a Good 3, and it did noticeably effect some runners.
Another firm track is expected this Saturday too.
Melbourne Cup New Zealand Horses
Over in Auckland, the Auckland Cup will be headlined this week by Sir Charles Road, Mike Moroney’s Vengeur Masque and fast improving Kiwi mare Glory Days, winner of the Group 2 Avondale Cup two weeks ago.
These three should contest favouritism for the race. A number of these gallopers are also nominated for the 3200m Sydney Cup in mid April.
Track conditions are also expected to be a Good 3, so those with a preference for firmer tracks will come into contention.
Other news this week:
Proven stayer Foundry (winner of the 2016 Metropolitan Handicap) is a surprise starter in the All Star Mile, given entry via the public voting system, but he’s been off the scene for many months and is not expected to be a genuine chance.
English trained but New Zealand owned galloper Eminent is on his way down under.
Eminent has arrived in Australia. Will take on Winx. If he is back to his best then he may be the first horse to give here a race.
Based on Good ground 1m 2f
Eminent 2m 2.26s
Winx 2m 3.47s
But Eminent has to be at his best
— The Novice Tipster (@TheNovicetipste) March 3, 2019
He has changed trainers, with Kiwi equestrian great Sir Mark Todd now entrusted with his care.
Todd has previously trained top class horses such as: Sounds Like Fun, Bramble Rose (New Zealand Oaks) and Willy Smith (Wellington Cup).
Eminent is owned by Sir Peter Vela (owner of top Kiwi race mares Romanee Conti and dual Caulfield/Melbourne Cup winner Ethereal) and will be heading to New Zealand for a stud career (as a son of Frankel), and his last race will be taking on Winx in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, coincidentally her last race too.
Winx Runners up
Talking of Winx, her run on the weekend in the Chipping Norton set new benchmarks in world racing.
Running in behind were a couple of handy stayers who should be in contention for staying races like The Ranvet, Tancred and Sydney Cup, all looming on the horizon.
WINX WINX WINX! Watch the superstar mare make history once again running down Happy Clapper to win her 31st straight race and 23 Group 1’s! What a champion #GoWinx @royalrandwick. pic.twitter.com/I64iLJ1gSg
— Sky Racing (@SkyRacingAU) March 2, 2019
They include Unforgotten (ATC Oaks winner) Libran (2nd Sydney Cup), Patrick Erin (Metropolitan Handicap winner) and Bringham Rocks.
They all probably needed that tune up run for the longer distance races ahead.
Melbourne Cup Overseas
Over in New Zealand currently is former Irish trained Rostropovich, previously with the Aidan O’Brien stable. Another son of Frankel, he raced in Australia last year for two fifths; in the W. S Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup.
He has an extended quarantine period to undertake, as he raced in Hong Kong after leaving Melbourne, and is expected to join the Hayes, Hayes and Dabernig stable just prior to the Victorian Spring carnival.
German stayer Sweet Thomas is another to make a permanent move to Australia.
A five time winner, and recent victor of the German St Leger, the six year old has already qualified for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.
He has form around last year’s German galloper Sound Check, and will be racing out of the Matthew Smith stable based at Warwick Farm.
Interesting to read this morning that weekend winner Schabau is being geared for the Melbourne Cup long term.
The winner of the Roy Higgins Quality early on the Australian Guineas race-day card, he’s another former German galloper now with the Robert Hickmott stable, and makes up part of Hickmott’s long term assault for the big race.
He’s a GUN!
Schabau wins the second at Flemington.
Off to the paddock for a well deserved break. pic.twitter.com/FUzKU8uc60
— 7HorseRacing 🐎 (@7horseracing) March 2, 2019
Previously with the Lloyd Williams operation at Mount Macedon, Hickmott will have learned a thing or two about preparing imported stayers to win Australia’s Cups races, so we’ll be keeping an eye on his team.
Charlie Appleby, trainer of last years Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter, has confirmed that his up and coming stayer Ispolini will not be making the trip to Australia to compete in the Sydney Cup.
He is currently in Dubai where he won a Group 3 race last Thursday, and will stay on to race in the Dubai Gold Cup (3200m) on March 30th.
Wow! It’s an easy victory for Ispolini in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy for Charlie Appleby and Mickael Barzalona. 🏆 pic.twitter.com/yWDvISJhGc
— Meydan Racing (@MeydanRacing) February 28, 2019
Appleby also took out the second running of the 2017 Sydney Cup with Polarisation. If punters recall, this is the race that had to be re-run due to the condition of the track and the fall of both Almoonqith and Who Shot TheBarman.
That first race was declared a ‘no race’.
In the next Melbourne Cup Watch Report, we’ll look at the potential horses to watch out of the three-year-old staying ranks for this current season.
There’s still a way to go before the three-year-olds conclude their season around May/June, but much interest always centres around who can make the jump into their four-year-old season.
Until next time, continue to kept up to date with Kruzey’s 2019 Melbourne Cup Watch.