By Ric Chapman
It seems that every weekend over say the past eight weekends, we see new horses rise as potential Melbourne Cup winners and every now and then, one drops off.
Case in point, primarily – Gai and Adrian’s JUST FINE (Sea The Stars – Bint Almatar). After two very impressive wins in Sydney, culminating in a Gr 1 victory in the Metrop, he became the talk of the town only to burst that bubble in Melbourne when absolutely thrashed by his illustrious stablemate Alligator Blood at Caulfield.
He consequently has been sent to the spelling paddock and will not contest the Cup.
Some may feel Soulcombe has dropped a little too – but they shouldn’t. He is a big, genuine Cup contender still in my eyes.
Let’s look at three that should finish within the top 10 on Cup day.
SOULCOMBE (Frankel – Ribbons)
He is going to love Flemington on Cup day. The handicap conditions of the race and the distance are both profoundly in his favour. After winning the Listed Heatherlie over 1700m, he has been put in the silk department of races and has run really, really well. He was 4th at WFA in the Gr 1 Underwood over 1800m, which is too short for him. Then he was 3rd in Gold Trip’s very fast run Gr 1 Turnbull over 2000m before being the eye-catching runner late when 7th in the Gr 1 Caulfield Cup. Will simply eat up Flemington’s long home straight and thus, at the low handicap weight, becomes a major threat.
WEST WIND BLOWS (Teofilo – West Wind)
Oh, I do like the look of this bloke and his preparation has been immaculate. I think he actually deserves to win the Gr 1 Melbourne Cup. Jumped straight off the plane after a long haul from England and raced wide all the way before such a game 2nd to last year’s Cup winner Gold Trip in the fast run 2000m Gr 1 Turnbull. The fortitude shown that day is the stuff Cup winners have. Then he backed it up with a lot of my money on him in the Gr 1 Caulfield Cup over 2400m, and, after getting off the fence and racing five wide for the last 600m he again gave a tremendous showing hitting the front before being claimed late by the brilliantly talented Without A Fight. He ran 2nd and although he has yet to win beyond 2227m he has twice, including last start been placed in top grade in very fast run 2400m races. Is super fit.
DUKE DE SESSA (Lope De Vega – Dark Crusader)
I suspect he is considerably better than his average 9th in the recent Gr 1 Caulfield Cup over 2400m suggests. It was a fast run Cup and he just didn’t let down and run into it late but he has done that before at Caulfield. It’s not a track that suits every horse. Flemington is a completely different meal. He does have the requisite speed to finish off a very fast last 400m on a long straight like he gets in the Cup. Keep him in your numbers.