There were a couple of performances which caught our eye on the weekend.
Ultimately though, it was another hugely disappointing day of wet weather and heavy track conditions at Rosehill.
Not surprising, many connections pulled the pin on their horses running on a heavy 10 (later downgraded to a heavy 9), with only the proven wet trackers remaining to pick up the spoils.
Meanwhile down in Victoria, it was a Good 3 at Bendigo. Go figure.
Tancred Stakes (2400m)
Backing up after last weeks victory in the Ranvet Stakes (2000m), Godolphin’s Avilius prevailed once again, and answered a few of the questions we put forward in last week’s Melbourne Cup Watch report.
A short seven day turnaround was not a hindrance, nor was a repeat of a heavy track.
It was described as a $1.5 million training gallop by trainer James Cummings, the horse eased down on the line by jockey James McDonald with journeyman stayer Big Duke and Kiwi mare Rondinella filling the minor placings.
So what plays out for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in two weeks time?
You can assume from all the pre talk bluster across Sydney that neither The Autumn Sun or Avilius will be lining up in the race.
Word on the vine is that The Autumn Sun will be spelled and possibly considered for early retirement due to his sire Redoubts Choice passing away last week, and owner John Massara wanting to have an heir to take over stud duties.
With Avilius, he has nothing left to prove this campaign, and he can now have a well earned rest in readiness for the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
His true test, and possibly the single most unanswered question is: whether he can run a true 3200m race on a firm track rated Good 3 or 4?
Depending on what happens in the Sydney Cup and also watching the form out of Europe and UK, will more than likely determine which horses board the plane off the Heathrow tarmac in a few months time, and who will demand bragging tights in the pre-race favouritism stakes.
One can expect Avilius to be among the discussion.
Vinery Stakes (2000m)
She came to Australia with a big reputation but it took until the weekend for Verry Elleegant to finally land her maiden Group 1 with a convincing win.
The Chris Waller camp looks like they have worked out the talented but quirky former Kiwi filly.
Making some well timed gear changes (replacing a nose roll with ear muffs) seems to have done the trick.
She’ll be lining up in the ATC Australian Oaks (2400m) as the pre-race favourite, and will try to emulate another star Kiwi filly from two years ago: Bonneval.
I think she’s a much improved galloper than when we saw her in the Spring.
She’s bred to stay and with her racing manners sorted (hopefully), who knows what she is capable of.
The two fillies who chased her home: Frankely Awesome and Aristia are also well credentialled, but I believe are a touch behind on a heavy track when compared to Verry Elleegant.
Whether Waller sends her down a Cups path or a W.S Cox Plate path remains to be seen.
Dubai World Cup Meeting
Racing at Meydan on Saturday night took in the Dubai World Cup meeting.
Some top horses were in attendance, the most notable being the Japanese staying star Almond Eye.
Though her Japanese wins were over long distances including last year’s Japan Cup (2400m) in world record time, her debut Meydan appearance was in the Dubai Turf over 1800m, and she won comfortably.
She’s on a path toward a showdown with Enable in the Prix de L’arc de Triomphe.
Last years Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter had his first run of the year in the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup over 3200m, defeating his stablemate Ispolini.
Both are touted as Melbourne Cup nominations but that will depend on their form and the wrath of the VRC handicapper.
If Cross Counter gets whacked with a weight rise, it’s likely he’ll stay in the UK.
Ispolini is the more likely prospect because he’s only won at Group 3 and placed at Group 2, so he could be better off at the weights.
Trainer Charlie Appleby also has Dubhe in his stable, who we will see in a fortnight at Royal Randwick.
Not a bad trio of stayers at all!
The last race on the card was the Dubai World Cup (2000m) run on dirt, which was won by Godolphin’s Thunder Snow trained by Saeed bin Suroor (trainer of last years Caulfield Cup Best Solution), amid a swag of gallopers from the USA.
It’s the first day of The Championships meeting, with the Doncaster Mile being the big race of the day.
However, the two races of most interest for followers of the stayers will be the ATC Australian Derby (2400m) and the Chairmans Handicap (2600m).
That’s all for this weeks Melbourne Cup Watch Report. Keep checking in with KRUZEY for more, as we count down to the first Tuesday in November