Melbourne Cup and Caulfield Cup noms out – and how this weekend shapes up

Tristan Rayner Editor

By , Tristan Rayner is a Roar Editor

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    Nominations are out for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups. (AAP Image/Julian Simth)

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    It’s a big week for racing: the first Group 1 of the year, Winx goes for another win, and both Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup nominations are in.

    First the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m), where the 12 runners are all Group winners, and the favourite is Goodwood winner Vega Magic, who won his last outing in the Listed Regal Roller (1200m) in front of a fast finishing Japanese-import, Brave Smash.

    In a field this good, the $2.50 or so on offer isn’t tempting, especially over 1400m which will be his first time over that distance.

    The former WA galloper is also taking on Black Heart Bart, the 2016 winner, triple Group 1 winner Le Romain, Australian Guineas winner Hey Doc, Seaburge, Tosen Stardom, and the returning Yankee Rose.

    She’s a real interest horse here – a bit of a crowd favourite, and her trainer David Vandyke doesn’t mind letting on to how she’s really going. He considered retiring her through some injury concerns, including bone chips and hoof problems. But she’s finallly right to go and should be steaming from the back late.

    ATC Derby winner Jon Snow could find this too short as he heads on a Cups run, while Single Gaze hasn’t won below 1600m since she won his very first race.

    Considering Charmed Harmony beat Black Heart Bart last start, it’s surprising to see him at $26 at the same track and distance.

    Our man Cam Rose has a full preview today, and he’s found us something around Vega Magic.

    Cup nominations are out!

    First nominations for both our big Cups were announced this week, with 140 in the Melbourne Cup and 142 in the Caulfield Cup. The numbers moved up and down respectively a little but that’s not the story. The story is who’s in and who’s out at this stage.

    Who’s in is pretty impressive. There’ll be some attrition after weights are released and nominating isn’t always a path towards buying a plane ticket for internationals.

    But there’s more than a slim chance Order Of St George will make the trip for the Melbourne Cup. He’s partly owned by Lloyd Williams, but took the Arc path last year. I thought that might follow again – and it still might – but Williams has been warmer on him coming than not. He’d be the best horse in the field, if he came, and the top weight.

    Team Williams has 12 nominations, the best of those along with Order Of St George include Almandin, the 2016 Melbourne Cup winner who put in an impressive run first-up over the weekend, Amralah – the 2015 Herbert Power winner that sensationally missed that year’s Melbourne Cup after a positive swab, Bondi Beach, Kilimanjaro, who I fancy, and plenty more.

    Darren Weir, courtesy of his owners, has 21 horses in the nominations. The most exciting of those is Admire Deus, the Japanese horse that was fourth in the Tenno Sho behind Kitasan Black, and is now owned by Australian Bloodstock. He’s nominated in both and that’s his path. One of his former local rivals Albert, a Japanese horse that was fifth just behind Admire Deus in that same race and has beaten him before. He’s a Group winner over distance in Japan so it’s real quality.

    Japanese horse Cheval Grand isn’t coming – that’s perhaps good news for both Albert and Admire Deus as he beat them both back in that Tenno Sho.

    Marmelo, the Prix Kergorlay winner, is set to come. It depends on the weights, says his trainer Hughie Morrison, but he’s a big strong type.

    Who else is out (or at least, absent at this point) reads interestingly enough as well.

    Big Orange won’t come this time, but we knew that. And if you’re not sure, Jameka is out as well with injury, sadly.

    The surprises were more in two Godolphin horses in Polarisation (the Group 1 Sydney Cup winner) and Oceanographer (the Group 3 Lexus Stakes winner) aren’t nominated. Oceanographer appears to be retired, while Polarisation simply hasn’t run at all since the Sydney Cup. Frontiersman was another likely Godolphin horse that hasn’t been nominated after some poor performances, including in the Prix Kergorlay.

    One last story on the Cups is Night’s Watch. This battle is the lowest benchmarked horse of all entrants, rating just 66. How bad is he?

    Well actually, he might have some hope. Darren Weir puts the polish on him, and OTI Racing bought into him to give you an idea of the quality of the talent scouts that got him here.

    For reasons known to them, they snapped him up out of New Zealand, where he won a maiden and placed in two other races.

    Since then, he’s managed to win here locally twice, winning over 1300m in a BM64 and over 1400m in a BM70 yesterday, at Sandown.

    It’s a long, long way from there to the best 24 horses running over 3200m at Flemington. I’ve seen him as low as $81 in some futures markets, which is frankly massive unders. Maybe Transfer Allowance is far worse as a prospect. He hasn’t won since February 2016, putting together in 23 starts, but he did beat home two in the Zipping Classic last year behind Beautiful Romance. At $501, that might still be unders!

    Cup watch: Heatherlie and the Chelmsford

    The other two races of interest are between Winx running in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m), and at Caulfield the Listed Heatherlie Stakes over 1700m, a handicap, which has a host of imports new and old fighting it out with some lower benchmarked locals. It’s possibly too early to be an ideal formline but it’s one to watch for later in the season.

    The Chelmsford also has a few Cup hopefuls: Sense Of Occasion, Who Shot Thebarman, Libran, Antonio Giuseppe, Chocante, Sarrasin, Life Less Ordinary, Harper’s Choice, and Lasqueti Spirit all hold either Caulfield Cup or Melbourne Cup nominations. It’s quite the stayer line-up really, but they’ll all be running behind Winx unless she has barrier problems again.

    There’s also a couple in the earlier 2000m Handicap at Randwick.

    By the way, I’ve published a basic site called racingtalk.com.au which I’m using to track Melbourne Cup runners (and nothing more – yet!). It’s freely available and being updated daily until the Melbourne Cup!