Lucia Valentina will be looking to become only the third mare since 2000 and the first favourite since 2007, to win the Caulfield Cup when the Kris Lees trained mare takes her place in the $3M feature race this Saturday. Lucia Valentina firmed as favourite, $4.50 into $4.00 after faring well at Tuesday evening barrier draw where she draw barrier 12. The only other runner under double figure odds is one of two Japanese runners in the race, Bande ($8.00).
His countryman and top weight Admire Ratki, also firmed after drawing favourable from $13 into $11.00 as did Marc Botti’s Seismos ($26 into $21) after drawing the fence. Botti ran second in this race last year with Dandino. The 8yo is back for another crack but he chances were dealt a significant blow at the barrier draw, coming up with the dreaded widest gate.
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1. ADMIRE RATKI – Z Purton (8) 58kgs
Japanese 7yo stallion whose has been raced sparingly since his last win in the G1 Diamond Stakes (3400m) in February of last year. This is his first start outside of Japan and whilst he hasn’t raced for twenty-four weeks, he has been in the money first up off similar breaks in quality races over this distance – and longer still, in the past so expect him to be ready. Drawn well and ridden by leading hoop Zac Purton.
2. DANDINO – C Williams (22) 57kgs
The Marco Botti trained galloper ran a slashing second to Fawkner in this race last year before running fifth in the in the Melbourne Cup. He has followed a similar path into this year’s Cups and last years’ experience for both horse and trainer should prove invaluable however, from twelve starts over the 2400m, he has one win and six seconds, but has missed a place in each of his last three attempts, all in the past four months, by considerable margins. Jumped from gate sixteen last year, draw the widest marble.
3. GREEN MOON – C Schofield (6) 57kgs
Not bad first up in the G1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) when, from last in the run, he finished sixth (3 lengths) behind Dissident and Fawkner who both settled closer to the speed. He again settled back in the G1 Turnbull Stakes at his only run since, and never fired a shot, finishing a disappointing second to last and over a dozen lengths from Lucia Valentina. Closing in on two years now since his last win and off of his last start effort, it is hard to include him among the hopes.
4. SEA MOON – S Arnold (21) 57kgs
Worked home as well as connections could have hoped for first up off a seven month spell when fifth (2.7 lengths) of eight in the Listed Bart Cummings (2520m) under the impost of 60kgs. Whilst he’ll be better again for that outing and drops 3kgs in weight, this is much a much tougher event and he is still yet to fulfil the expectations placed upon him when first arriving from Europe this time last year. The gate means he’ll have to produce a career best effort to win here.
5. BANDE – C Lemaire (10) 56.5kgs
Another who has left the Japanese shores for the first time in his career. The 5yo stallion by Authorized has showed good improvement over the past twelve months, winning three of his last six starts in good style including his most recent outing ten weeks ago, the Listed Sapporo Nikkei (2600m), by five lengths. He ran third, a long neck behind Admire Ratki, in the G2 Hansh Daishoten (3000m) and with his ability to take up a forward position, rates a solid chance.
6. THE OFFER – T Berry (19) 56.5kgs
Caught the eye first up in the Dato’ Tan (1600m) with a fast finishing fifth (1.8 lengths) to The Cleaner before, although finishing second to last, working home well again in the G1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) behind Foreteller. His most recent run saw him finish sixth (4.2 lengths) in the Turnbull where he worked home steadily from the tail of the field under hands and heels riding by Berry. Is ready for the 2400m now and in four starts beyond 2000m in Australia, is yet to be beaten. Three of those wins have come on heavy tracks though and connections wouldn’t mind seeing some rain before race-day to increase their chances.
7. SEIMOS – C Newitt (1) 56kgs
The second of Botti’s runners, this 7yo gelding is a well-travelled campaigner who, at his most recent start nine weeks ago, claimed the G3 Freer Stakes (2671m) at Newbury. Racing in the Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock colours, who have previously had success with overseas runners such as Dandino, Jakkalberry, and more recently Crackerjack King, the reports from Werribee about his trackwork have been positive and his racing pattern and the riding style of Newitt, will complement each other well. Hasn’t had this weight for a while now but his past few shots at the elite level, have seen him come up a bit short.
8. HAWKSPUR – D Oliver (9) 55.5kgs
He has followed the same preparation, and has very much the same form, as he did leading into this race last year in which he started the 13/4 favourite for. He drew poorly (14) and his effort to finish seventh (2.4 lengths) behind Fawkner wasn’t a bad one. Settled last from a wide gate in his most recent start, the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) and only held his ground in the run home looking for the short cuts along the fence, crossing the line in tenth spot (5.5 lengths) behind Lucia Valentina. Can improve again with a better run from a good gate here and Oliver, who has already won four Caulfield Cups, will have him in the right sport throughout.
9. JUNOOB – D Whyte (15) 55.5kgs
Made it two wins a row and four from his last five at 2000m and beyond, with a good win in the G1 Metropolitan Handicap last start, defeating Opinion by half a length with 58kgs after hitting the lead a long way from home. Ridden a treat by Blake Shinn last start and will get his chance here with world class jockey Douglas Whyte booked for the ride. Last winner to claim the Metrop/Caulfield Cup double was Tawqeet in 2004 who carried 54kgs and 53.5kgs respectively in the two races.
10. MORIARTY – M Rodd (7) 55kgs
After letting punters down as the 7/4 favourite when running last of six to stable-mate Junoob in the G2 Hill Stakes, the 7yo gelding redeemed himself with a narrow win over Rising Romance in the G3 Craven Plate (2000m) last start. Under the WFA conditions of the race he had 59kgs compared to the runner’s up 56kgs and hard to work hard over the final stages to get the decision. He ran tenth (2.8 lengths) in this race last year after drawing wide but not so sure he is in the same form now as he was then.
11. WHO SHOT THEBARMAN – G Boss (16) 55kgs
Another strong staying effort from this lightly raced 6yo secured him his second consecutive win when taking out the G3 Bart Cummings (2520m) in convincing fashion a fortnight ago. The further they went the more the son of Yamanin Vital extended his margin, running out a 2.5 length winner on the line. Has carried big weights in each of his four runs this campaign and will enjoy getting down to 55kgs and having a solid speed up front. Not a bad option for those looking for a bit of value as he’ll be winding up late when some are feeling the pinch.
12. DEAR DEMI – J Cassidy (13) 54.5kgs
From poor draw, the 5yo mare ran a bold race in last year’s Cup finishing second to Fawkner by ¾ of a length. The 5yo mare won the G2 Stock Stakes (1600m) over Solicit before finishing seventh (4 lengths) in the G1 WFA Caulfield Stakes (2000m) to Fawkner last week. She draw the inside gate last start and was three back the fence as they turned for home, a position from which she struggled to get clear room in the run home. Never wise to underestimate this mare – or jockey for that matter.
13. STIPULATE – D Dunn (5) 54kgs
Bolted in first up, winning the Listed Australia Bloodstock Stakes (1700m) in impressive style before working home under riding that the stewards later asked to be more vigorous in the future, running seventh (2.7 lengths) in the G1 Underwood Stakes (1800m). He then found a nice spot in the run and tracked into the race well but couldn’t really improve his position from midfield on the turn, and only held his ground in the run home to finish fifth (3.7 lengths) in the G1 Turnbull Stakes. First time beyond 2000m for this 6yo and just wanted to see a bit more from him over the final stages last start for a race like this.
14. LIDARI – (4) 53.5kgs
Been involved in the finish of each of his four starts this campaign including a fourth (1.9 lengths) to Foreteller in the G1 Underwood Stakes before, at his most recent start, being caught on the line in the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) by Lucia Valentina – favourite for this event. Had every chance in each of the above runs and gets to 2400m for the first time since joining the Moody stables at the end of 2012 but could not be better prepared for the journey. Drawn well and has been met with strong support in betting markets.
15. LUCA VALENTINA – K McEvoy (12) 53kgs
Each of her three runs this time in have been first rate and resulted in two wins, including her most recent outing in the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m). From the second half of the field, the daughter of Savabeel navigated a clear path through the centre of the field and finished too well late for Lidari, winning by half a length. Can’t fault her form this time in and her only previous start over 2400m resulted in a big run to finish third to Rising Romance in the in the Australian Oaks after she settled a mile back. Bigger and better mare now and the distance will pose no problem. Should there be any cut out of the track, her price was shorten significantly again.
16. RISING ROMANCE – J McDonald (17) 53kgs
Finished well first up in the Tramway Stakes (1400m), won by Lucia Valentina, when fourth (2.2 lengths) before racing a little flat second up in the WFA G1 George Main (1600m), crossing the line seventh (3.4 lengths) after having every chance in the run. She then stepped up to the 2000m of the Craven Plate and as the even money favourite, took up the forward position. She was tackled by Moriarty at the furlong but fought on tenaciously, going down narrowly as the hit the line. Drops from 56kgs here and whilst she’d be rated a chance at double figure odds on her form around the favourite – she has only beat her home once in the four times they have met, in last year’s Australian Oaks.
17. BIG MEMORY – C Brown (20) 52kgs
Secured a lovely run from the inside draw on the leader’s back in last week’s Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) and a dream rails run turning for home. Despite hanging badly in the run home, he had long neck to spare from Signoff and Let’s Make Adeal. That continued his good form at this distance but will not be afforded such sweet run here after drawing gate 20 and meets a much stronger field.
18. GRIS CARO – J Moreira (3) 52kgs
Rolled along on the speed when winning the G3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) two starts back, narrowly defeating Entirely Platinum with Bonfire third. He then stepped up to the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) but against the tougher opposition, weakened from his midfield position on the turn to run twelfth (6 lengths) behind Lucia Valentina. Will push forward from an inside gate and with a lightweight but hard to see him holding off the challengers that will be coming in number over the final furlong.
19. BRAMBLES – (11) (1st EM)
Going very well since resuming from an almost two year break back in May and on his current form, connections will be desperate for their first emergency to gain a start. Two starts back under 60kgs from an on-pace position, he fought on tenaciously to narrowly deny Big Memory and Signoff – who ran the quinella in last week’s Herbert Power before falling a half a length short in the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at his most recent start, when third to Lucia Valentina. Secured a lovely run in the Turnbull and that effort would top him off nicely for this race, with his only previous start over 2400m resulting in a comfortable victory in the 2012 Queensland Derby.
20. ARALDO – (18) 53kgs
The former Italian galloper closed from a long way back to run third (1.3 lengths) to Junoob in the G1 The Metrop (2400m) last start. It continued his solid form this campaign and this time last year, the 7yo stallion by High Chaparral defeated Sea Moon to win the Listed Bart Cummings (2500m) before running missing a spot in last year’s Melbourne Cup when third to Ruscello in the G3 Lexus (2500m). Didn’t always have his best racing manners last prep but this time around, with is tracking well and would be strong at the end of this trip with only 53kgs on his back.
21. UNCHAIN MY HEART – (14) 52kgs
Won the Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes (3200m) over the Melbourne Cup course earlier this year but in five runs since, the 8yo mare has found at least a couple of competitors in each event, of much less quality than this, too good. As always she kept coming in the run home when ninth of thirteen in the Herbert Power Stakes and will find the company of this race, should she get a start, too rich.
22. RENEW – (2) 52kgs
UK galloper who had won three of his thirteen starts before lining up for new trainer Archie Alexander in last week’s G2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m). He pushed forward from a wide gate to sit handy to the speed but as the pressure began to mount, his position to the leader began to wider, eventually crossing the line in second last spot, a dozen lengths behind Big Memory. Not here.
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This should be a genuinely run affair with the likes of Bande, Seismos, Gris Caro and Lidari who are all drawn handy pushing forward, keen to hold their positions whilst several of those who have drawn poorly, will have to commit from the jump to go forward. From barrier ten, Melbourne Cup winning jockey Christophe Lemaire should be able to place Bande, who has been the subject of heavy support in pre-post betting, to advantage leaving the straight the first time. He is a lightly raced 5yo still improving and his final hit-out in Japan was impressive. Lucia Valentina will be able to keep out of trouble and have plenty of time to wind up from gate twelve. McEvoy is riding in exceptional form and her lead up form has been exemplary. Thought Waller’s Hawkspur and Moriarty, who both ran well in last year’s race from bad gates, are capable of bold showings from better draws. Both have had a WFA prep and appear ready for the 2400m.
A great race!
- LUCIA VALENTINA
- ADMIRE RATKI