We are now starting to see some of the heavy hitters reappear on the racetracks in Victoria and New South Wales, but there is still much water to flow under the bridge before the big Cups races loom on the horizon.
Order of Entry
Not long after the first weights announcements were made for both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, the Order of Entry was also released.
This impacted on the connections of every horse who were in the field at the first point of nomination: 152.
Unlike previous years, the European Raiders do not get off easily this time around.
Kew Gardens followed by Lys Gracieux and Cross Counter head the weights at 58kg and 57.5kg respectively, the other major contenders spread between 57kg and 54kg.
Reading between the lines, it looks like there will be a drop off of several horses currently sitting in the top thirty, so the jigsaw will remain scrambled for some time yet.
To compound the haziness of the European horses that are currently in quarantine at Newmarket, yes they are about to hop on a plane, but their destination could either be Melbourne or Los Angeles, in preparation for the Breeders Cup meeting at Santa Anita.
At the time of writing, we are none the wiser on some high profile gallopers including Magic Wand, Hunting Horn and Latrobe.
Hopefully we’ll have confirmation on who is coming down under in our next report.
This is the current OoE as at 12 September. Unfortunately not in PDF form.
The local scene
In the last few days, the weather has been a major talking point around the industry.
We had a Good 4 rating upgraded to a Good 3 at Flemington for Makybe Diva Stakes Day.
Meanwhile in Sydney, the rain keeps falling, which will make for extremely heavy conditions for the George Main Stakes Day this weekend.
There has been some talk that gallopers may be scratched and line up in Melbourne instead over the coming week.
Getting decent weather and track conditions leading up to The Everest for instance will give contenders a hit-out, but will count for nothing if the track at Randwick remains wet and heavy by the time the rich race arrives.
This affects horses like Santa Ana Lane and Sunlight, and if Coolmore get their entry in (10 Sovereigns) then a wet track will count against all three.
Decisions for Jockeys
Now let’s talk about the jockey availability between Sydney and Melbourne on the Everest / Caulfield Cup Saturday.
It really is unprecedented that two racing jurisdictions have two huge races running on the same day.
Not only is it unheard of, but its total nonsense.
This will also happen on VRC Derby Day, with the Golden Eagle run at Rosehill the same afternoon.
It will soon get to a stage where loyalty becomes paramount to some of the larger stables.
We are not quite at the ‘gun for hire’ scenario, but it will make things difficult for jockeys having to choose.
Once you forsake a ride, it can be hard to get back on.
Stables and trainers in Australia do not go to the same level of retained riders as they do in Europe, so therefore you’ll see different riders on good horses here, depending on availability.
This adds confusion to punters.
Maybe in the near future, the jurisdictions in Melbourne and Sydney could become their own little bubbles with few interstate movements happening because metro meeting prize money is so good nowadays, meaning less travel for jocks and more time at home.
As far as the big Victorian cups are concerned, there are only 18 rides up for grabs in the Caulfield Cup and 24 in the Melbourne Cup.
You can be assured that top internationals will be here.
Dettori, Moore, Doyle, Buick, Cosgrave, Lordan, Murphy, Purton, Moreira, possibly one or two others.
So that leaves maybe 9 slots open for the Caulfield for local riders and maybe 14 or 15 for the Melbourne.
Everyone will be fighting for places. Locals include:
McEvoy, Bowman, Oliver, Williams, McDonald, Avdulla, Berry, Lane, Melham, Zahra, Walker, Baster, Allen, Clark, Schofield.
Of course, horses that get in light will need jockeys who can also ride light. This might bring names like Yendall, Kah and Meech into the equation.
Who are we watching?
Avilius is high up in the market, but understandably has not his straps yet.
We’ll need to see him out over more ground. His run in last years cup was a shocker.
Verry Elleegant has only had one run back this prep, and it wasn’t good.
Personally, she’ll have to run out of her skin to confirm a start for any of the three big Victorian races, because at the moment she looks underdone.
Rostropovich looks like a different horse, but needs a race with extra ground.
There are not many opportunities between now and the Melbourne Cup, maybe the Herbert Power, The Metropolitan, or the Bart Cummings and the Moonee Valley Gold Cup.
Those are the only races over 2400m to get some miles into his legs.
There is a lot of interest in the Horsham trained galloper Surprise Baby.
Only just missed out on automatic qualification in the Andrew Ramsden back in May, he will need to take the hard path to get to the Melbourne Cup because he’s quite some way down in the order of entry and he needs to win a qualification race to get in.
The same applies to Prince of Arran, who ran third last year after winning the Lexus/Hotham on Derby Day.
I know Michael Walker was keen to ride him again this year but he’s some way down the order of entry, and this year might be a little bit difficult so Walker will have some decisions to make around who he gets to ride, even before Derby Day.
He does a bit of writing for the Hayes, Hayes and Dabernig stable so I’m sure there will be some options available for him.
As to be expected, it’s really hard to get a gauge on the European horses until such time as they get here and line up in a race.
We saw that last year with Yucatan. So the race that looks like it has a lot of international flavour will be the Herbert Power Handicap.
It will be for me, one of the most eagerly awaited races coming up on the calendar.
Of the horses that are already here in Australia either locally trained or have recently arrived, the ones that I am interested in seeing progress include German galloper Django Freeman now what’s the Mike Moroney stable out at Caulfield), Chris Waller’s horse Finche and the bonnie New Zealand mare Glory Days, prepared by Bill Thurlow but currently taking up residence at Patrick Payne’s stable out at Plumpton in West Melbourne.
All will be taking a different path towards the cup, so that adds a bit of contrast but really the name of the game is to win races that can qualify you directly, or win races that can incur a penalty for winning it (the most obvious example is winning the Caulfield Cup and the likelihood of incurring a 1 to 1.5 kg weight penalty), and if course, luck of the draw in terms of horses that sit above in the order of entry which will drop out for one reason or another before Cup day.
For instance, last year we saw horses such as Duretto and Red Verdon drop out of Cup contention at the last minute.
Here are the latest all-in odds. Shakers and movers include some of the gallopers mentioned above, but it’s still early days. [note, the page has been updated by SportsBet]
That’s all for this weeks Melbourne Cup Watch Report. Keep checking in with Kruzey.com.au for more, as we count down to the first Tuesday in November 2019 .