A competitive edition of the Caulfield Classic sees six of the thirteen runners in the race under double figure odds when markets where first posted Wednesday. Kumaon ($4.20) held the call slightly from Merion ($5.50), Bachman ($6.00) and the filly Crafty ($6.50) and Magicool ($7.00). Surprisingly Kumaon is $13 chance in VRC Derby markets whilst Merion, Bachman and Magicool, are all $8.00 and on the second line behind Hampton Court ($5.00) Last year’s winner of the Caulfield Classic, then known as the Norman Robinson, Polanksi, was the first horse since Amalfi in 2001 to win the Classic/Derby double but, with many of the chances in this race high in the betting order for this year’s Derby, punters believe a repeat of Polanksi’s feat could be on the cards.
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1. KUMAON – K McEvoy (3)
Closed well from the back of the field to run third to Almalad in the G2 Bill Stutt Stakes (1600m) and then had every chance in the G1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) when third to Shooting To Win. A consistent galloper who has bumped into some smart gallopers during his career but gets his chance to take centre stage here from a good draw
2. MERION – S Arnold (10)
Ousted Chivalry on the line two starts back to win the Listed Living Legends (1400m), his third win from only four starts, before contesting the G1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) where he settled back and was carried very wide on the turn before running sixth (3.7 lengths) behind Shooting To Win. Quinella in the Guineas were closer to the speed and fence so his effort was a good one. Bred to get the trip (O’Reilly out of a Danske mare) and would rate one of the better chances in the race.
3. BACHMAN – C Brown (4)
G3 winner as a 2yo, the Gerald Ryan trained galloper has been brought along slowly as a 3yo with the latest of his three runs back from a spell, a third (2.1 lengths) to Hampton Court in the Listed Dulcify (1600m), clearly his best. Settled midfield and started moving into the race from the 500m in the Dulcify before his run peaked a little late in a race dominated by those up front. Hampton Court of course won the G1 Spring Champion at his following start and from a good draw here, Ryan’s patience with this All American colt could be rewarded.
4. MAGICOOL – G Boss (7)
Lobbed in the right spot and as the field turned for home in the Listed UCI Stakes (1800m), Boss took a look over his shoulder so well was the Fastnet Rock gelding travelling. Whilst he didn’t let down as well a Boss probably thought he would’ve have, he did well in recording the neck win all the same given he was jumping up in distance from 1400m. Will be fitter again and looks a smart horse in the making and expectations for him have always been high.
5. FIREHOUSE ROCK – N Hall (2)
Registered his maiden win two starts back, at his third career run, when holding on gamely over the final stages to narrowly defeat Hawking and War Points in 3yo handicap over 1700m. He then drew wide in the UCI Stakes (1800m), settled back and wide, a position from which he failed to make an impression running eighth (12 lengths) behind Magicool. Will push forward from a better draw here but meets a stronger field than his last couple and will need to show significant improvement.
6. WAR POINT – C Newitt (11)
Continued his good form this prep and registered his fourth consecutive placing, when third (0.7 lengths) to Magicool in the UCI Stakes (1800m) last start. From gate one, he settled on the leader’s back and pushed through a tight gap on the fence to chase the leader gamely. Has drawn well the last couple but wider here and for him to be winning from out there, he needed to show more late from the good runs he has had recently.
7. LIGHT UP MANHATTAN – J Bowman (6)
Started a 4/13 on favourite in a Wangaratta Maiden (1590m) two starts back and although he won, didn’t in a style that his price would’ve suggested he should, prevailing by a long neck. He then came to town and batted away well in the UCI Stakes (1800m) to secure fourth (six lengths) place behind Magicool. Has a lot of ground to make up on that horse let only a few more good ones that he didn’t have to worry about last start.
8. HAWKING – J Cassidy (8)
Led and gave a great sight in an Open handicap (1700m) at Caulfield two starts back when out-bobbed on the line by Firehouse Rock. The Street Cry colt tried to repeat the effort in his following start, the UCI Stakes (1800m) but in the straight continued to fall behind, eventually only beating one home and finish over sixteen lengths from the winner Magicool. Hard to take with any confidence after that performance.
9. JUSTAWAY – S King (5)
Still searching for his first win at this, his sixth start, and given he has only finished in the place once previously, in races of far lesser quality than this, it’s impossible to see the son of US stallion, Thewayyouare, figuring here.
10. CUBAN FIGHTER – D Dunn (12)
Another still searching for his maiden win who is also hoping it will be seventh time lucky however, his form suggests he’ll have to wait for another day – and a much easier race than this.
11. HOME RUN HERO – B Melham (1)
Punters believed that stepping up to the mile would see this Matt Laurie trained galloper break his maiden status at Ballarat recently and they sent him out the 11/4 favourite. He had every chance in the run but came up a long neck short. He was reported to have pulled up lame after the race so can be forgiven – but for another maiden race, not a Group 3.
12. FONTEIN RUBY – M Zahra (13)
The first of two fillies who will take on the boys, she was ridden a treat in front by Zahra last start, pinching a break crucial break at the top of the straight that was enough to see her hang on to a head win over Mastricht and Crafty. That was her third win from the past four runs and the Robert Smerdon trained galloper is improving with every run. She’ll have to show good improvement ago though as she faces the boys here and jumps from the widest gate.
13. CRAFTY – C Williams (9)
Settled last when first up in a Caulfield Open fillies race (1400m) and although she crossed the line twelfth of fifteen, the daughter of Manhattan Rain was only starting to warm up late. The step up to the mile and bigger Flemington circuit were to her liking and again, from a long way back, she finished strongly to run a neck third to Fontein Ruby, who led and pinched the win upon straightening. 2000m looks like it’ll pose no problems for here and would expect her to make her presence felt late.
Kumaon should get a lovely run here from gate three and whilst the other runners in the race are promising, he’s already been competing, and well, at the top level and that should carry him a long way here. Magicool can only be better for last start’s run over 1800m and he travelled sweetly before finding enough on the line. The 2000m should be right up his alley. Like the finishing effort of Crafty at each of her past two starts and respecting the stable’s decision to take on the boys here. Bachman looks a promising stayer in the making and his form reference behind Hampton Court last start is the strongest in the race.