Over the weekend, Australia’s major metropolitan racecourses conducted important trials for the infamous Melbourne Cup on November 3.
The Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) took place at Flemington, with the 2007 Melbourne Cup winner Efficient claiming victory. Surging from third last to win in the $500 000 stakes race, Efficient at long odds of around $26 for the race, beat home Predatory Pricer by only a half-head. Scenic Shot managed a respectable third a length back.
This was the first win for the six-year-old grey gelding since his stunning 2007 Cup victory after suffering an injury during last year’s Melbourne Cup preparations. The ride was also the first Group 1 win for up-and-coming jockey Nicholas Hall.
The $2.5 million Caulfield Cup on October 17 is most likely off the racing agenda for Efficient, who is more suited for the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup. With wins like this over the weekend, he will sure to be a force to be reckoned with over the spring carnival.
Meanwhile former European gelding Speed Gifted has passed the first elimination clause for the Caulfield Cup (2400m) after his impressive victory in the Group 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Randwick on Saturday. It is expected that the Lee Freedman-trained Speed Gifted will attract a penalty for his win, enough to book him a place in the Caulfield Cup. Before his Metropolitan success Speed Gifted had 51kg for the Caulfield Cup and he now sits as favourite for the race at $4.50.
Now a possible runner for the Melbourne Cup as well, the Montjeu galloper ridden by Corey Brown, commenced the race at $6 in the betting markets beating home Lodge The Deeds ($20) by 3 1/2 lengths with Fiumicino ($11) coming in third.
Another notable race held over the weekend was The Bart Cummings at Flemington, won by six-year-old stayer Light Vision. The Robert Smerdon-trained Light Vision is now also in possible contention for the spring features, sitting within the top 30 in the elimination order for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.
And Gai Waterhouse’s Rock Kingdom provided the trainer with her sixth Epsom Handicap (1600m) win on Saturday after he collected his first career stakes victory.
These races have thrown the ante-post betting markets for the spring carnival’s features into overdrive. Early favourite for the cups Vigor fell off the top perch after missing out on a place in the Turnbull following Efficient’s upset victory. Speed Gifted and Efficient now share equal favouritism with the bookies at around $7 for the Melbourne Cup.