A massive Cup-eve betting splurge on locally-trained gallopers has shaken the international grip on Australia’s greatest race.
Punters fired off a string of huge bets on the Sydney-trained Kelinni and Melbourne stayer Lights Of Heaven at Monday’s Call of the Card, pinning their faith on Australia’s two most successful trainers to repel the strongest international Cup attack ever mounted.
Bookies couldn’t cope with the barrage of money thrown at the Chris Waller-trained Kelinni, refusing a $60,000 bet on the horse from heavy-hitting punter Sean Bartholomew that would have won him $1.5 million.
He eventually backed the winner of last Saturday’s Lexus Stakes to win around $500,000.
Bartholomew also unleashed on Lights Of Heaven, backing the Peter Moody-trained mare to win a cool $500,000 at odds of $21.
Lights Of Heaven, the Caulfield Cup third placegetter, also drew two bets of $10,000 and another of $15,000.
The biggest single result from the Call of the Card was a potential collect of $700,000 if the local stayer Niwot landed the prize in the $6 million race.
The first locally-bred home when eighth in last year’s Cup, Niwot won the support of a female punter who had $10,000 on the horse at $71.
Another punter made the trip from the nearby casino floor to bet $10,000 in gambling chips on Gai Waterhouse’s Caulfield Cup failure Glencadam Gold and $41.
Despite the avalanche of money for the Aussie-trained runners, the internationals still have the odds on their side to make it three wins on end.
France’s 2010 winner Americain still holds sway in the betting at $7, ahead of compatriot and reigning Cup champion Dunaden at $8, the same price as English runner Mount Athos.
Another English contender Red Cadeaux is next at $12.
Red Cadeaux was more in demand than any other international on Monday, punters throwing a string of five-figure bets on last year’s runner-up.
Dunaden also had heavy support, with a bet of $350,000 to $50,000 written against his name.
Before the punters began emptying their pockets, Americain and his fellow raiders had the finishing touches added to their preparations at Werribee.
Americain’s constant companion in his three Cup campaigns, Stephanie Nigge, rode the Cup favourite in light exercise, declaring him “better than ever”.
“I think we have done everything we can, his weight is perfect, he is ready for a big race,” Nigge said.
Trainer Mikel Delzangles who has supervised Dunaden’s preparation from France, England and the United States, is also satisfied the horse is in better condition than he was a year ago and has improved on the form that won him the Melbourne Cup two weeks ago.
“I’m sure he has improved since he won the Caulfield Cup, but it is hard to say how much,” he said.
“He looks well and happy, he’s moving nicely and the jockey is very happy with his work.”
The Melbourne Cup’s most successful foreign trainer Dermot Weld also made a Cup-eve claim for a third win in the race, declaring his runner Galileo’s Choice ready to run the sort of race he planned for him two years ago.
“I wanted to bring him last year, but we couldn’t get him qualified in time,” Weld said.
“This year has been different, we’ve given him the right preparation and everything is right for him to run a great race for Ireland.”