Lee Freedman believes the Caulfield Cup is shaping as a battle between the favourite Jameka and the imports.
The four-time Caulfield Cup-winning trainer will saddle the newly arrived Exospheric who is completing his Cup preparations at the Werribee quarantine centre where other international hopes Scottish, Articus and Sir Isaac Newton are also housed.
Freedman, who now trains in partnership with his brother Anthony, will also have the imported Our Ivanhowe, last year’s third placegetter, in Saturday’s $3 million handicap and isn’t dismissing his chances.
Exospheric, formerly known as Exosphere, will have his final gallop on Tuesday over 1400m at Werribee and Freedman says the horse has settled in well.
“He’s put back on eight or 10 kilos so that’s a very good sign. The rider is happy with him and the horse is really happy,” Freedman said.
“He’s a light-framed horse but he’s doing extremely well and is eating well.”
The Ciaron Maher-trained Jameka is the $3.40 favourite with Scottish at $7, Articus and Real Love at $8 and Exospheric at $10.
“There’s a good group of internationals here this year,” Freedman said after supervising Exospheric’s work on Monday.
“There’s three or four horses all well capable of winning it. And she (Jameka) is by far the leading pick of the locals.
“So it’s looking very much like her and them.”
Exospheric, to be ridden by four-time Caulfield Cup winner Damien Oliver, has form around Scottish and Sir Isaac Newton and ran fifth in the Juddmonte International in August in his last race for Sir Michael Stoute.
Freedman labelled the Andreas Wohler-trained Articus as “the sleeper” in the race.
Doomben Cup winner Our Ivanhowe was fifth in the Makybe Diva Stakes first-up before finishing ninth in the Turnbull Stakes.
“If you take him on face value and his run in the Turnbull, I can understand there’s not a lot of interest in him,” Freedman said.
“But he’s going a lot better than that and I felt up until the Turnbull he was going better than when he ran third in the Caulfield Cup last year.
“I certainly wouldn’t forget the horse.”