Darren Weir has managed to find the best of Gailo Chop and the French-bred import will enter the Australian Cup with wins in 3 of his past 5 starts, the past 2 in succession. A winner of the G1 Caulfield Stakes in the Spring, he set the pace in the Cox Plate that saw Winx break the track record. His campaign was wound up following a disappointing run in the Mackinnon Stakes when fading out. Resuming this preparation in the Carlyon Cup at G3 level, the gelding started favourite and settling on the pace displayed his dominance with a 1.25 length victory. Second-up in Peter Young, the historically dominant race to Australian Cup success, Zahra had him in front setting the pace and he once again had 1.25 lengths to spare in victory. A six-time winner at 2000m, one of those is at Flemington when taking out the 2015 Mackinnon.
The 2016 Melbourne Cup winner returned to the track in the Listed Victoria Cup carrying 60kg under the conditions. In a stirring battle with his stablemate Homesman over the concluding stages, the weight difference told in going under by a head. He will meet Homesman 3kg better at the WFA this time after giving away 3.5kg in the first-up run. He will also meet The Taj Mahal better than their last meeting in the Spring. In Almandin’s last run for the Spring in the Sandown Classic at 2400m, The Taj Mahal was too sharp in recording a 3.5 length victory carrying 56.5kg compared to the 59kg Almandin carried. The 8YO has a solid second-up record that shows 4: 2-1-0 and he has performed well in his appearances at Flemington, recording a 50% winning strike-rate, with 3 wins from 6 starts. Strong figures as he looks to add the Australian Cup to the Melbourne Cup on his resume.
A Group 1 winner at 2000m, having won the Vinery Stud Stakes as a 3YO, the now 5YO mare has returned this preparation in superb order following a Spring campaign that saw a peak run in the Caulfield Cup. Settling on a sizzling tempo, the mare was still fighting hard to the line when finishing 2nd to Boom Time. Returning for the Autumn in the CF Orr at 1400m, she was charging home late in a blanket finish and was within a head of the winner Hartnell. Second-up in the Peter Young, she was ridden much closer to the speed and it was only the dominant Gailo Chop that she could not hold off in finishing a 1.25 length 2nd. Her only 2 Flemington runs have been when at opposite ends of her best trip, in the 1600m Makybe Diva and the 3200 Melbourne Cup and she looks much better suited this time at the 2000m.
The Godolphin 7YO is a super consistent performer and was at his best when resuming in the CF Orr at 1400m. Settling mid-field he came with a well-timed run to score a narrow win in a blanket finish. In his second campaign with James Cummings at the helm of the Godolphin controls, Hartnell has continued in his professional manner and second-up went to the Peter Young Stakes where he was closer to the speed in the run and fought hard to the line to finish 3.5 lengths from the winner Gailo Chop. Last Autumn when third-up he was 2nd to Bonneval in the G1 Underwood Stakes at 1800m, while last Autumn when third-up was 2nd to Our Ivanhowe in the G1 Ranvet over 2000m at Rosehill. The gelding has a 50% top 3 strike-rate at Flemington, with the figures of 6: 1-1-1, the win coming over this trip when claiming the G1 Turnbull Stakes.
The Australian Cup is held at Flemington over the distance of 2000m. The race is held at weight-for-age conditions and has been a Group 1 contest since 1979 and was first held in 1863. Originally a handicap race it permanently reverted to the weight-for-age conditions in 1987.
A race that has been tinkered with multiple times in the history of the event, in 2018 the race will be held at its usual home of Flemington. The Australian Cup is one of six races on the Australian G1 calendar held under the same conditions and distance.
Total prizemoney on offer in 2018 is $1.5m with the winner to receive $900,000. The 2017 winner was the Darren Weir trained Humidor, ridden by Damian Lane. Some greats of the turf have been able to capture this race and past winners include Makybe Diva, Lonhro, Northerly, Octagonal, Better Loosen Up and Bonecrusher.
Odds and previews are available for all the major Autumn Racing Carnival races at UBET's Autumn Racing Betting Hub.
|Date:||Saturday 10th March 2018|
|Race Time:||15:35 AEDT|
|Race Type:||Weight For Age|
|2018 Australian Cup Odds|