A record number of four internationally-trained horses will contest Saturday’s $2.5 million Caulfield Cup, a race dominated by imported galloper December Draw.
Racing Victoria’s chief handicapper Greg Carpenter described the Cup field as very even outside December Draw.
“His form line since coming from Europe has been outstanding. He won the Naturalism here (at Caulfield) beating At First Sight who is a placegetter in an English Derby and then he won the Turnbull at Group One level.
“The only two horses in the last 30 years that have stepped up to 2400 metres for the first time in a Caulfield Cup and won are Northerly and Let’s Elope.
“So the challenges for December Draw are getting the 2400 metres and the same for everyone – how much luck he has at the barrier draw tomorrow because I’m sure that (trainer) Mark Kavanagh and (jockey) Michael Rodd will be hoping that he draws in the middle of the field.”
Nine of the 18 horses that made the Cup field started their careers overseas including eight of the top 10.
The weights had to be raised 2.5kg leaving Hong Kong’s Mighty High, prepared by expatriate John Moore, the topweight with 57kg.
There are three English horses in the Cup – Drunken Sailor and Manighar, both prepared by Luca Cumani, and the Brian Ellison-trained Saptapadi.
Apart from December Draw, the other imports are Unusual Suspect (USA), Lucas Cranach (Germany), Hawk Island (Great Britain) and Green Moon (Ireland).
“Outside of the favourite (December Draw) I think it is a very competitive renewal of the Caulfield Cup,” Carpenter said.
The only previous international winners from 22 to run in past years were Taufan’s Melody (1998) and All The Good (2008).
Carpenter said the Anthony Freedman-trained Lucas Cranach comes from Germany with a very big reputation.
“He won a Group Two race there and then ran fifth to (subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner) Danedream at Group One level, beaten 5-3/4 lengths, and she won the Arc by five lengths, so that form line looks very strong,” Carpenter said.
“There are a number of other horses down towards the bottom of the weights who do have good chances in the race.
“Southern Speed (52.5kg) is the lightest-weighted horse in the race and she comes off a second in the Underwood and a fourth in the Turnbull.”
Macedonian and Green Moon gained the last two spots in the 18-horse Cup field with Spechenka the first emergency.
Lucky Eighty Eight is second emergency with Anudjawun the third reserve and Midnight Martini the fourth.
The David Hayes-trained import Rebel Soldier was eliminated.
The barrier draw will take place at 11am (AEDT) on Wednesday at Caulfield.
December Draw holds favouritism at $2.30 with TAB Sportsbet and is set to start the shortest-priced favourite in many years.
Lucas Cranach is at $7 with AJC Australian Oaks winner Absolutely at $10, Mighty High and Newcastle Cup winner Green Moon at $13 with Brisbane Cup winner Tullamore next best at $15.