Top Victorian trainer Darren Weir holds a strong hand in this year’s Australian Cup (2000m) with three starters, Stratum Star, Humidor and Real Love. Weir’s runners, Stratum Star and Humidor finished one-two, respectively in the Peter Young Stakes (1800m), which is the traditional lead-up. Caulfield Cup winner Jameka and The United States add class to the field in a tough race for punters.
Jockey: Mark Zahra.
Why he can: In career best form with wins at last three starts. Latest effort won Group 2 Young Stakes over 1800m at Caulfield, so stepping out to 2000m will not pose a problem. He is drawn to get the gun run again.
Why he can’t: Form is impossible to fault but he did have everything to suit last start.
Jockey: Stephen Baster.
Why he can: Finished second in this race last year. Won the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (200m) this track before a spell. Latest he was 10th behind Stratum Star in the Young Stakes. Runs his best races this track and will be improved.
Why he can’t: Appeared to have every chance last start, but didn’t find anything in the straight.
THE UNITED STATES
Jockey: Ben Melham.
Why he can: Ran a super race at his first run from a spell when third to Stratum Star. He enjoyed a gun run and made his run in the slower part of the track, but was not far away at the end. He has a great second-up record and will strip fitter here.
Why he can’t: Difficult to make a case against him.
Jockey: Anthony Darmanin.
Why he can: He showed speed and was only beaten 2.35 lengths in the Young Stakes last start.
Why he can’t: Hasn’t won for more than a year and not going well enough.
Jockey: Adam Hyeronimus.
Why he can: Another that has been racing in top form this preparation. Followed two Sydney wins with Group 1 thirds, behind Black Heart Bart in the Orr Stakes (1400m) and Futurity (1400m).
Why he can’t: Makes the step up to 2000m. He has won over this distance, but against much weaker opposition.
Jockey: Damien Oliver.
Why he can: Lightly raced five-year-old English import. Finished third in the Caulfield Cup before unplaced in the Melbourne Cup. He turned in an eye-catching run behind Stratum Star in the Young Stakes. He raced near the rear and was only warming up late, but finished off strongly and 2000m looks ideal.
Why he can’t: His biggest win is a Stakes race, but that shouldn’t count against him. He may need another run, but clutching at straws.
Jockey: Joao Moreira.
Why he can: Magic Man Moriera rides and with the form he’s in (he won 8 of 10 races at Sha Tin last week) he could win on a broomstick. He turned in an even effort behind Stratum Star at Caulfield, but should appreciate the bigger track this time.
Why he can’t: He ran third in the Turnbull Stakes last October, which was his best run at Group 1 level. Not sure he is ready to match it with these quality stayers.
Jockey: Glen Boss.
Why he can: Hard to make a case for him. He promises plenty but rarely delivers. He was ninth behind Stratum Star last start and did not threaten at any stage.
Why he can’t: His last win a year ago when he won the Albury Cup (2000m).
Jockey: Regan Bayliss.
Why he can: Stable in form. Scored nice win in Listed Vic Cup at Caulfield last start. He has won four of last five starts, including two this track.
Why he can’t: Lacks the class to match it at elite level.
Odds ($4.20 equal favourite)
Jockey: Damian Lane.
Why he can: Former Kiwi four-year-old in the money in his 10 of 14 starts. Has made gradual improvement in three runs this preparation. At his latest he was well back in the run before finishing powerfully to be narrowly beaten by Stratum Star.
Why he can’t: This is his toughest staying test. He appears as though he will measure up, but is still not proven.
Odds ($4.20 equal favourite)
Jockey: Hugh Bowman.
Why she can: Caulfield Cup winner, fitter for two runs from a spell. She usually takes a run or two to come to hand and there was a lot to like about her last start. She was trapped deep throughout, loomed up to win and tired late. She was a game fourth behind Stratum Star and should be close to her peak now.
Why she can’t: Class mare, no knocks.
The United States
Preview from Sportsbet.com.au