Cup winner returns, mini-Everest, and did you see this certainty beaten?

Tristan Rayner Editor

By , Tristan Rayner is a Roar Editor

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    Almandin coming down the straight. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

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    Almandin starts a campaign for his Cup defence this Saturday, drawing Barrier 5 in a field of ten for a 2040m handicap at Moonee Valley.

    Lloyd Williams’ eight-year-old will lump with 61kgs, with Ben Melham on board for the first time.

    “I can’t offer much more than what anyone else knows about him,” Melham said.

    “I haven’t ridden him in any of his work but it’s a good opportunity to be riding the horse in his return run.”

    Almandin is surprisingly short in markets given he’s first-up for a year, well in the market at $6.50.

    There are some other smart stayers resuming, including another Williams stayer in Hans Holbein. He went through the grades last season and his last win on a soft track at Flemington was by eight lengths.

    Both Williams horses are likely to need a run, but it wouldn’t surprise to see them run big races.

    Other notable chances include Pacodali, who gets in well despite a string of wins, and favourite Second Bullet, who returned well first-up and should be well in this race, but drew out in Barrier 10 and will likely need to come from the back on a tight circuit.

    Bad ride on a favourite, bad luck, or protest worthy?
    Good thing Floki went to Muswellbrook on Tuesday after an eight-length maiden win at Scone. Yet the horse was a $1.28 shot beaten, and the biggest surprise post-race came in that after reviewing footage, a protest wasn’t lodged at all.

    Take a look at Floki and rider Josh Adams, wearing navy blue silks with white bands, and a red cap. Pre-race, trainer Ben Smith indicated he wanted the horse to sit behind the leaders and follow, to continue his education for longer races.

    It all went horribly wrong in a bunched field, as the footage shows.

    Head-on of the debacle:

    Watch for the shifts to keep the horse boxed in and be amazed no protests were lodged, with stewards declaring correct weight, and no further action!

    Chautauqua, She Will Reign in trial battle
    Two of the biggest name sprinters in Australia will clash on Friday, but it won’t be for cash just yet. Chautauqua and She Will Reign are both listed to trial over 800m at Warwick Farm on Friday, as they head towards the $10 million Everest race.

    Also lined up to trial is Single Bullet, Joe Pride’s Terravista, and Kris Lee’s Doncaster winner, It’s Somewhat.

    She Will Reign’s trainer, Gary Portelli, said he won’t be asking too much of the filly just yet in what’s been dubbed a ‘mini Everest’.

    “I know that she will be very competitive, she can’t help herself, she has to win everything,” Portelli said.

    “I imagine she will be out there to win the trial for herself but we won’t be pushing her too hard to do it.

    “I’d still like to see her win the trial for the simple fact winners like to win. Mentally it will keep her in good place.

    “But all these horses will be out to have an easy trial.

    “Everyone will be expecting to see something special on Friday but Joe Pride is giving his horse an easy trial, I want to give her an easy trial, Chautauqua will have an easy one and my other bloke [Single Bullet] will be having an easy time too.”

    Portelli told Racing NSW that She Will Reign is more horse this time around, putting on more than 40 kilograms to clock in at 498kg, and will only drop to 490kg to race.

    “She’s thicker and wider through the hips, stronger through the shoulder you find she has more muscle mass,” he said.

    “I think she was immature and was still able to beat the hoses that were mature so I’m pretty excited to see what she does in this preparation.”

    Cup watch
    Melbourne Cup watch continues, with Red Cardinal putting in a fairly plain run in the Prix Kergolay to be fifth. It hasn’t upset any plans just yet – the early market favourite ran at the back and didn’t do much down the straight, but was never asked for a supreme effort.

    Jamie Lovett of Australian Bloodstock told Punters that he’s all set to go into quarantine for the journey across:

    “He’ll go into quarantine in a few weeks and he’ll run in the Herbert Power. We weren’t overly concerned with his run the other day (in the Prix Kergorlay).

    “He got back and there was no tempo but in saying that I probably would’ve liked him to finish off a touch better. He pulled up like he’d had a run so he might have just needed the hit-out off a freshen-up.”

    Japanese horse Mount Robson, who was mentioned in passing as a possible Cup horse, finished down the track in Sunday’s Sapporo Kinen. It’s unclear as to what he will do next.

    In better news for the Cup, Wall Of Fire managed a fine second placing in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes for trainer Hugo Palmer and Australian connections, and should also head Down Under.

    Tristan Rayner
    Tristan Rayner

    Tristan is a writer, consultant, racing enthusiast and former Editor of The Roar who has turned the Melbourne Cup into a year-round study via racingtalk.com.au.