I’m back. All it took was a noted dry-tracking back marker to lead and win in the slop.
The Caulfield carnival has been run and won and we’re at Geelong today for one of the last remaining Melbourne Cup previews.
As per usual, there are a few internationals running around this afternoon and that is going to be must-see TV if you’ve got an eye on the Cup, which is just 13 days away.
Of course, racing moves to Moonee Valley this weekend, with the running of the Manikato Stakes on Friday night before the Cox Plate on Saturday.
The plan was to preview the Manikato instead of the Geelong Cup, but the field is well below standard for a Group 1. For what it’s worth, Bivouac will be winning if he turns up happy and healthy.
For today’s meeting, the track was rated a Good 4 at the time of writing and feature event jumps at 4pm local time.
Good luck if you’re having a punt.
1. Muntahaa (9)
Trainers: David and Ben Hayes, and Tom Dabernig
Jockey: Luke Nolen, 58kg
This old campaigner was a solid ninth in last year’s Melbourne Cup but he hasn’t won a race in Australia and doesn’t look like winning one anytime soon. He’s making up the numbers.
2. Neufbosc (6)
Trainers: David and Ben Hayes, and Tom Dabernig
Jockey: Luke Currie, 58kg
An import who hasn’t really found his feet since arriving in Australia, with his four runs this preparation below par. His run on a soft track in The Metropolitan earlier this month was ordinary. Can’t see him troubling the judges today.
3. Prince of Arran (11)
Trainer: Charlie Fellowes
Jockey: Michael Walker, 58kg
Clearly the horse to beat on his run in the Herbert Power 11 days ago. Probably had no excuses when second, but he was first up in Australia and looks to have settled in well.
Has drawn a little awkwardly in the widest gate, but you’d expect Michael Walker to be aggressive from the outset and find a spot up near the speed, perhaps one out, one back. If he gets even luck he’ll be right in the finish.
4. Red Cardinal (10)
Trainer: Kris Lees
Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy, 58kg
This honest battler produced a good run in the Newcastle Cup and has been trucking along nicely for a big run in the spring. He might be one run short of a gallop here, but Kris Lees is a smart trainer, so a top performance wouldn’t surprise.
Could be the roughie you throw into exotics.
5. Dal Harraild (5)
Trainers: Ciaron Maher and David Eustace
Jockey: Mark Zahra, 57.5kg
He should be fit enough after a run in the Bart Cummings over 2500m a few weeks ago, but whether he has the turn of foot remains to be seen. Is always knocking on the door, but rarely knocks the door down. Will run an honest race but I prefer others.
6. Grey Lion (2)
Trainer: Matthew Smith
Jockey: Craig Williams, 57.5kg
He’s been a good horse for connections but I just can’t see him winning today. This is easier than his last run, but not much easier. Would need some Craig Williams magic to be in the finish.
7. Red Galileo (4)
Trainer: Saeed Bin Suroor
Jockey: Patrick Cosgrave, 57.5kg
Has raced in some of the biggest events in the world, including the Dubai Gold Cup this year, where he was eighth behind last year’s Melbourne Cup winner, Cross Counter.
Bookies have kept him safe at $7.50, but I’m a little concerned about the fact he’s won just three times from 41 starts. Great horses find a way to win and he finds a way to get beaten.
Has to be a chance, but I’ll take him on.
8. Steel Prince (8)
Trainer: Anthony Freedman
Jockey: Damien Oliver, 57.5kg
If he needed to win this race to get a run in the Melbourne Cup I’d be all over him like a rash. He’s the best horse in this race.
But a win might bring a penalty and that won’t be ideal for connections. He also had a minor hiccup last time at the track when he was a late scratching due to an issue at the barriers.
Based on all those factors – and the change of plans in the campaign – I’m not going to tip him, but he could just as easily win by two lengths.
9. Haky (3)
Trainer: John Hammond
Jockey: Linda Meech, 57kg
Linda Meech should roll to the front from the good barrier and set a steady tempo. He was well backed last time in the Herbert Power and was disappointing after leading in the early stages. He’ll get an easier time in front today, however.
If you forgive that run and bank on a different tempo at Geelong, he could be the roughie that features in the finish.
10. True Self (1)
Trainer: William Mullins
Jockey: John Allen 56.5kg
Hard to line him up but he does come here off a good run in the Ebor Handicap behind Mustajeer, who wasn’t far off in Saturday’s Caulfield Cup.
He’ll sit behind leader Haky and be poised to strike as they turn for home. Obviously we don’t know how he’s settled in, but the stable is professional and they haven’t come to make up the numbers. A winning chance.
11. Supernova (7)
Trainers: Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes
Jockey: Dwayne Dunn, 54kg
Was no match for Surprise Baby in the Bart Cummings, but no rivals were. And he finished closest. The drop back in distance will suit and he could figure in the finish.
My only concern is he might be a bit flat on the back of that gut-busting run, but is well weighted today. An each-way hope.
A tough race but not a lot of depth. Probably five or six winning hopes out of the 11 runners.
Steel Prince is the best horse in the race but might be needing a run with the Melbourne Cup in their sights. Prince of Arran is the standout and as long as he doesn’t get stuck wide from the barrier, should be right there at the finish. I’d back him to win and have a saver on roughie Haky, who might be hard to run down at the front of the field.
Suggested bet: Prince of Arran to win and a small play on Haky.