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The Metropolitan (2400m) is a traditional lead up to the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.

The last galloper to win the Metrop-Caulfield Cup double was Tawqeet in 2006, while the last horse to win the Metrop-Melbourne Cup double was Macdougal all the way back in 1959.

Mr Charlie - sportpix.com.au

Mr Charlie - sportpix.com.au

Just Horse Racing writer Andrew Hawkins looks at the field for this year’s Metropolitan:

1. No Wine No Song (1) – veteran galloper who had looked past it at his first few runs this preparation. However, last Saturday, he recorded a very soft victory in the Colin Stephen Quality over this track and distance. He has backed up within 7 days on numerous occasions before, and seems to have no issue with it. Based on that effort, and with the likelihood of a good speed, there is no reason he can’t win again on his way to the Melbourne Cup.

2. Herculian Prince (6) – a hot favourite for this race until his failure in last week’s Colin Stephen Quality as a $1.40 favourite. He was eased out in the market, but good support has seen him find his way back into favourite again in what has been one of the most remarkable betting occurrences of the year. Based on his last run, you’d say no, but based on market support, you’d say yes. Glastonbury ran last in the Colin Stephen in 1994 as favourite before winning the Metropolitan a week later at 25-1. Punters haven’t made the same mistake again, and I think that if you forgive last week’s run, he’s a fair favourite. Likely leader, just not sure whether we can trust him now.

3. Mourayan (12) – highly touted import (half brother to last year’s Melbourne Cup third Mourilyan) who has been slightly disappointing in his runs in Australia to date. However, his last run in the Naturalism Stakes (9th beaten 3.5L by Rainbow Styling) was actually a big improvement on his prior runs. He hasn’t been expected to show anything until he got up to this distance. I think that owner Lloyd Williams will be ready to sack him if he doesn’t run in the top four or five this weekend. One for the exotics.

4. Hawk Island (11) – English import who is firing for Chris Waller. He had won five of his last six starts prior to his last start 4th in the Hill Stakes behind Descarado. He drops 4kg in weight on that outing, however there are two main queries. Firstly, he is yet to win on a good track, despite four placings from nine tries. Secondly, he looks like he just struggles to run out 2400m. He’s an ironhorse, having been in work since December. If this race was 2000m I’d have him close to the top. At 2400m, not for me.

5. Newport (13) – 2008 Metropolitan winner and enigmatic galloper. He’s been highly disappointing since his winter campaign in Queensland, and it would be a massive leap to take him here.

6. Count Encosta (4) – very highly rated after his impressive Tulloch Stakes win over Descarado and Maluckyday in the autumn. Resumed with a cracker first up, but has been slightly frustrating since. However, Patinack have been waiting to get him up to 2400m. On paper probably couldn’t win, but I’d be surprised if he didn’t run a bold race.

7. Get Up Jude (7) – very inconsistent galloper who is a couple of lengths off the best stayers. Has placed in this race before (ran 3rd to Newport in 2008), and was good last Saturday. He won’t be carrying any of my money though.

8. Crabs (8) – SCRATCHED

9. Mr Charlie (9) – ex-Kiwi galloper now with Peter Moody. Impressive NZ St Leger winner over 2500m earlier this year, winning by 6L but the quality of that field was probably closer to a midweek race at Randwick rather than a Metropolitan. However, he is very lightly raced and has been impressive at two runs in Melbourne. Needs to win to have any chance of making the Caulfield Cup field, and I think that he can. Blinkers on, one go at the trip for one impressive win, can’t do much more than that. Top chance.

10. Macedonian (3) – a very enigmatic galloper, he has always promised so much but has never delivered. Will be suited by a strong tempo, but after losing my money on him in a weaker race at Sandown last week, I can’t back him here.

11. Prix Du Sang (10) – this mare used to be one of my favourite horses. I was convinced she had a very good race in her incredible 4th in the Queensland Derby behind Court Ruler and Shocking – I’d almost say she produced the run of the race. But she’s been so disappointing since. She’s the outsider of the field, and quite rightly. I might have a small each way bet on her just in case, but you’d be mad to tip her.

12. Saint Encosta (5) – Patinack obviously had a big opinion of this galloper, seeing as they gave him a VRC Derby campaign (didn’t make the race) and an AJC Derby campaign (ran 8th to Shoot Out). However, he hasn’t really fired. He’s been better this campaign, and his last run in weaker company was good. Perhaps a roughie for a place.

13. Landlocked (2) – untapped galloper who obviously has ability. Looked like he may have gone off the boil when he reached the AJC Derby in his first prep in the autumn. And while his first two runs this prep were in much weaker company, he won convincingly and in the style of a good horse. He then wasn’t disgraced when stepping up to WFA in the Hill Stakes. He peaked 4th up last preparation, and if it works here, we may see a nice stayer in the making. One of the main dangers.

SUMMARY – I honestly don’t feel that anyone could be on top of this race and say for sure who is going to win. I mean, you don’t know what is going to happen with Herculian Prince. For me, I think the form around Valdemoro, Moudre and Fanjura is good, and as such I need to have the promising Mr Charlie on top. I think he can be competitive in a Melbourne Cup, just needs to get there first. Main danger is Herculian Prince, depends on which one turns up. Landlocked and Mourayan are next for me, while the topweight No Wine No Song also has claims. But Mr Charlie is the one for me.

Written by Andrew Hawkins

 
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