Melbourne – Saturday sees the running of Caulfield’s biggest race – the Caulfield Cup over 2400m – and with 18 gallopers set to face the starter in the $5 million (R50 million) staying feature, the race is wide open.
European import Mirage Dancer (2) boasts an outstanding record at 2400m (10-3-4-2) and his 0.5 length second place to the 2018 Caulfield Cup winner Best Solution over this distance last year obviously reads incredibly well.
He also has form around Benbatl who performed at such a high level in Australia last spring. From his middle barrier he should be able to find some nice cover just beyond midfield and the booking of big-race rider Ben Melham is a real positive.
Mr Quickie (12) ran a slashing third in the G1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m), savaging the line after getting a long way back in the field. He again went back in the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) last start but failed to make any impression, labouring home in an underwhelming display.
It was later reported that the Stokes gelding was quite stirred up pre-race, wasting energy before the gates had even opened. You should always forgive a good horse one bad run, and given Mr Quickie has won 9 from 15 – his bad runs are few and far between. The last time he stepped out over this trip he sailed home from beyond midfield to take out the G1 Queensland Derby.
Vow And Declare (14) chased home Mr Quickie in the Queensland Derby and was unlucky not to finish closer after covering extra ground in the run. He then went to the G3 Tatt’s Cup (3000m) and strolled home by 3.25 lengths in an imposing staying performance.
His first-up effort in the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) was outstanding, going stride-for-stride with then-Cox Plate favourite Mystic Journey from the 200m to the post. The extra 400m here is perfect and Williams should be able to find a nice spot just forward of midfield from the favourable draw.
Mustajeer (4) is coming off a stylish victory in the Ebor Handicap (2787m) at York just 56 days ago. Fitness shouldn’t be an issue for the Australian Bloodstock-owned galloper and all reports indicate that he’s settled in well in his new surroundings. He has the talent to win but the barrier is a worry given he’s a horse who has shown a real liking for the rail when racing in Europe.
Constantinople (11) has a stack of ability but is a quirky customer whose mind can often wander at the business end of a race. If he brings his A-game to Caulfield and isn’t overawed by the occasion (big crowd, big field, different track to what he’s used to) he’ll take plenty of beating … but it’s a big ‘if’.
The amount of gear changes is a fair indication that he has his issues: cross-over noseband first time, ear muffs pre-race, lugging bit first time, and winkers first time.
Japanese galloper Mer De Glace (3) has won five on the bounce, all at 2000m-22000m. He’s a classy type but may not find conditions to suit here given his best efforts have come on bone-dry tracks. – Punters.com.au