Caulfield Cup: barrier draw brings favourites back to pack
CHAMPION trainer Chris Waller's quest to win a maiden Caulfield Cup suffered a blow when heavily fancied import Finche drew an awkward gate for Saturday's $5 million race.
In what turned out to be a brutal barrier draw for some of the more fancied runners, Finche was barely clinging to favouritism after drawing barrier 19, meaning the Turnbull Stakes runner-up would jump from gate 15 if there was no scratching.
Finche drifted out to $6 after the barrier draw, but the consolation for Waller and jockey Michael Walker is that last year's Caulfield Cup winner Best Solution also jumped from barrier 15.
Waller's other Caulfield Cup hope, Naturalism Stakes winner Brimham Rocks, fared even worse, drawing one gate further out than his stablemate.
Fancied Japanese raider Mer De Glace ($7) will also need some luck after drawing 21, but has in-form hoop Damian Lane aboard.
Lane knows the horse well, having won on him twice during his stint in Japan earlier this year.
One of the big firmers for the race was David Hayes' import Constantinople, who the trainer said was working better than last week's Caulfield Stakes winner, Cape Of Good Hope.
Hayes can't wait to unleash the highly rated horse for his first Australian start, and Constantinople shortened into an equal-third favourite at $9 after drawing gate seven.
The Lindsay Park team is well stocked with South Australian Derby winner Qafila and the talented Rostropovich in the field, while Neufbosc is second emergency.
Hayes and Cory Parish united to win the race on Boom Time in 2017, and both believe Qafila carries similar credentials into this year's race.
"She's working up quite well. I thought in the Herbert Power the other day was a nice run, quite similar to Boom Time," Parish said.
Damien Oliver last won a Caulfield Cup 20 years ago on Sky Heights, and hopes Ebor winner Mustajeer can win him claim a record-equalling fifth victory in the race, which would draw him level with the late, great Scobie Breasley.
The Kris Lees-trained horse drew 16 and rates as $9 equal third favourite.
Old warrior Hartnell will be a sentimental favourite for many as he looks to carry the top weight of 58kg from an outside gate, but Godolphin bloodstock manager Jason Walsh is confident the nine-year-old is up to the task.
"Hartnell is no stranger to big weights and no stranger to big handicaps," Walsh said. "He's such a versatile horse, and has won Group 1s from 1400m up to a mile and a half."
Star jockey Hugh Bowman convinced James Cummings to hunt another big race after partnering the veteran in the Underwood Stakes.
Brad Rawiller, who rode him last start in the Turnbull, retains the ride on Saturday.
Local hope Mr Quickie will get every chance from barrier 10 and is rated a $9.
Danny O'Brien couldn't have been more pleased with Vow And Declare's draw, but the same could not for Kiwi visitor The Chosen One, who will jump from the widest gate and drifted to a $17 chance
The last horse to gain a slot in the race, Gai Waterhouse's Wolfe, drew perfectly in barrier five just hours after winning the Coongy Cup to the cheers of avid connections
$5m CAULFIELD CUP (2400m)
Caulfield, Saturday. (Ladbrokes odds)
1. HARTNELL (barrier 17) J Cummings - B Rawiller 58kg $19
So honest, so good, for so long, so richly deserves one of the big Group 1 wins.
2. MIRAGE DANCER (13) T Busuttin/N Young - B Melham 56kg $15
Must lump a big weight but the son of Frankel has good form around England's best stayers.
3. MER DE GLACE (21) H Shimiu - D Lane 55.5kg $7
A three-time Group 3 winner in Japan going for five consecutive wins. Top contender.
4. MUSTAJEER (16) K Lees - D Oliver 55.5kg $11
Has the right jockey to be in the finish but Ebor winners have not had a lot of luck Down Under.
5. ROSTROPOVICH (18) D Hayes, B Hayes & T Dabernig - D Dunn 55.5kg $21
One-time Lindsay Park spring flag-bearer before Cape Of Good Hope's emphatic win, would want to improve.
6. FINCHE (19) C Waller - M Walker 54.5kg $6
The flashy chestnut, who deserves to be favourite, would win Fashions on the Field hands down. Striking animal.
7. GOLD MOUNT (4) I Williams - M Du Plessis 54.5kg $21
Should be strong at the back end of the race but all eyes on first Tuesday in November.
8. RED VERDON (15) E Dunlop - P Cosgrave 54.5kg $41
Same owner, same trainer as popular Melbourne Cup runner Red Cadeaux so should be considered for exotics.
9. ANGEL OF TRUTH (14) G Markwell - D Yendall 54kg $67
Won the Australian Derby with a leg in the air but has been beaten a long way out in three starts this time in.
10. BIG DUKE (1) K Lees - B Prebble 54kg $61
Old stager motored late in The Metropolitan to finish fifth, will be thereabouts but looking for further.
11. CONSTANTINOPLE (7) D Hayes, B Hayes & T Dabernig - L Nolen 53kg $8.50
If Lindsay Park supremo David Hayes is excited about the import bought specifically with Cups riches in mind then who are we to knock that? Stable on fire.
12. MR QUICKIE (10) P Stokes - J Allen 53kg $9
Redemption time? The distance will not be an issue and as long as the Turnbull run is an aberration can win.
13. CROWN PROSECUTOR (2) S Marsh - C Grylls 52.5kg $41
Capable Kiwi visitor, who savaged the line last start at Group 1 level across the ditch, not without a chance.
14. VOW AND DECLARE (9) D O'Brien - C Williams 52.5kg $9
Weighted to be in the finish, if not win, and put in the pick of the Cup "trials" in the Turnbull Stakes.
15. BRIMHAM ROCKS (20) C Waller - M Dee 52kg $26
Won at big odds at Caulfield then did nothing in the Metropolitan. Top 10 maybe.
16. THE CHOSEN ONE (22) M Baker & A Forsman - S Baster 52kg $17
Needed to improve third up and did with emphatic win. Quick back, lightly weight just needs a gate.
17. QAFILA (6) D Hayes, B Hayes & T Dabernig - C Parish 51.5kg $34
Only battled last start and despite winning SA Derby deep in preparation just not going well enough.
18. WOLFE (5) G Waterhouse, A Bott - B Mertens 51.5kg $21
Lightly raced and gutsy effort to qualify but a bridge too far on extreme back-up from Wednesday.
19. SOUND (8) M Moroney - J Winks 54kg $101
A pin drop will be the only thing heard at Cauflield if he gets in the field and wins
20. NEUFBOSC (3) D Hayes, B Hayes & T Dabernig - J McNeil 54kg $101
Stable had a high opinion of the import but not well enough to figure in the finish.
21. TRUE SELF (12) W Mullins - D Bates 52kg $51
Way too far down the pecking order to get a start.
22. PRINCE OF ARRAN (11) C Fellowes - J Kah 52.5kg $16
Tough race when Prince Of Arran can't get a run.