By Ric Chapman
THE INTERNATIONAL : VAUBAN
It does seem rather embarrassing for us if a hurdler can come from the other side of the planet and win our most famous race.
But, this year’s Gr 1 Melbourne Cup favourite VAUBAN (Galiway – Waldfest) may well do that. He is as tough as a Belgian Draft Horse and as dour as a multi-marathoner.
For instance, he came to punters’ attention a few months back when he lumped, wait for it, 75kg into 2nd spot in a Gr 1 hurdle race at Punchestown in Ireland over 3218m.
This is form we would never dream of as being ripe for Melbourne Cup wagering but hurdling in Europe, especially England and Ireland, is the best in world.
So, from that impressive run, his connections had no hesitation taking him to England’s home of champions, Ascot, and sending him around in a 2816m open handicap. He carried a modest 61kg that day, was ridden by superstar Ryan Moore and won by nearly 8 lengths!
He followed it up with a win in August at Naas in a Gr 3 Hcp over 2414m again with 61kg.
So, we know a few things.
He is as strong as a bull, can carry weight and stays all day. Willie Mullins trains him and you should remember that Mullins brought another hurdler here for the Cup back in 2015 and he was beaten half a length when 2nd in the Cup. That same horse backed up two years later, again after a season or two over the sticks, and ran 3rd to Rekindling in the 2017 Cup. His name was Max Dynamite.
That’s another string to Vauban’s bow – Mullins knows the Cup and what it takes – it’s why Vauban is a $7 chance at present.
BACK AGAIN : GOLD TRIP
So too does Ciaron Maher and Dave Eustace.
And they look like saddling up the star GOLD TRIP (Outstrip – Sarvana) again this year. He of course came with a withering run on a damp track to win the Cup last year and did the same last week on a good surface to easily and very impressively claim the Gr 1 Turnbull over 2000m.
He is right on target and that Turnbull win was achieved at WFA in very fast time.
Subsequently, he firmed from $26 to $7 to win again as his turn of foot at Flemington in particular does seem superior to all other runners.
THE FIRMER : FUTURE HISTORY
Saying all that, the biggest Cup firmer in the past two weeks has been the lightly raced FUTURE HISTORY (Showcasing – Likelihood) a stablemate of Gold Trip.
A month ago you could have wagered upon him at $101. Not now.
After his crushing, impressive all-the-way win in the Gr 3 Bart Cummings over 2520m at Flemington last week, he has tumbled in significantly to $26.
Before coming to live and race in Australia, he had won four low key handicap races in France but seems to have adapted perfectly to the Aussie system and is a threat in anything now. Keep in mind though, he likes to lead and if he sets a fast tempo in the vanguard, this will set up very, very nicely for his stablemate, Gold Trip.
Next week, I’ll have a closer look at a few more including SOULCOMBE (Frankel – Ribbons) the dark horse in the field!