THE GREAT tradition of Australian racing is ‘handicap’ racing – our greatest races are the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups – both long-standing handicaps.
Theoretically they produce evenly-matched fields which then become super betting contests which is exactly what Aussie’s love!
If ever you needed the perfect example of the ultimate handicap race, then look no further than tomorrow’s Group 1 $3.15 million Caulfield Cup (2400m).
Wow, what a race. Seventeen runners and all bar two or three have a winning chance.
The CROWNBET market reflects that with nine of the 17 runners marked 20-1 or under.
It means whatever you fancy you’ll likely get nice attractive each-way odds – that’s the positive!
The negative for punters is that it’s an incredibly tough race with many, many winning hopes.
So, in the true Aussie tradition of having a go – back whatever you like for whatever reason – because the reality is your runner has a chance!
CROWNBET has the Aiden O’Brien-trained JOHANNES VERMEER favourite at $4.20 on the back of his fast-finishing second to Gailo Chop in last week’s Group 1 $1 million Caulfield Stakes (2000m).
He has raced over the Caulfield Cup distance only once – in the G3 Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown on August 10 – the start before he came to Australia.
That day he finished a brave second beaten half a length when a $1.80 favourite.
JOHANNES VERMEER has drawn perfectly in barrier two for local rider Ben Melham, thus his position at the top of the market.
Australian Cup and Makybe Diva Stakes winner Humidor, for champion trainer Darren Weir, is the second-elect, marked $8.00 with CROWNBET.
He has been specifically set for this race from the start of his campaign, and the former Kiwi hasn’t done a lot wrong.
He came from last to beat Hartnell in the G1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington, before a brave third to the wonder mare Winx in the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m), also at Flemington.
Now he goes out to the 2400-metres of this race, has drawn well in barrier seven and has outstanding young rider Damian Lane holding the reins.
Dual Oaks winner BONNEVAL is also a $9.00 chance with CROWNBET, and her form is outstanding.
First-up this preparation she won the G2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley making it five wins on the trot.
The previous two were the G1 NZ Oaks and the G1 ATC Oaks. She then carried her form to Caulfield when she won the G1 Underwood Stakes, coming from last.
Last week in her final lead-up race – the Caulfield Stakes – she got back in the field and ran into traffic problems before charging at the finish. She has a great chance here!
Let’s look at a few of the imports who are sure to play a serious role in the outcome of this year’s Caulfield Cup.
VENTURA STORM ($12), trained by Team Hayes, has fabulous form leading into the Cup, including his last start second to Winx in the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.
He drops 2.5kgs into the Cup from the Turnbull and gets gate four and Hall Of Fame legend Damien Oliver.
UK import MARMELO ($17) is lightly-raced having started just 10-times for three wins and five placings. His recent form is imposing.
He virtually led throughout in the famous French staying contest – the G2 Prix Kergolay – at Deauville over 3000-metres at his last start before coming to Australia.
Champion Sydney-based rider Hugh Bowman will take the reins on MARMELO.
Some of the lighter-weighted runners with a winning chance include AMELIE’S STAR ($9.00), a last start runaway winner of the G3 Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington.
Last Saturday’s strong winner of the G2 Herbert Power, LORD FANDANGO ($21) has to be considered on his win last week, which followed a win in the Benalla Cup.
HARLEM ($10), INFERENCE ($15) and JON SNOW ($12) are three others who have all performed well leading into the Cup and a win from any of them would not surprise.
Great contest and like I say, back whatever takes your fancy!
I’ll be having a little something each-way on MARMELO and VENTURA STORM, but respectfully, nothing would surprise.
Preview provided by CrownBet.com.au