Pat Carey’s Group 1 winning galloper Cedarberg is one of the headline nominees for the Aurie’s Star Handicap at Flemington this Saturday, the Flemington-based trainer using the race as the starting point of a 2011 Melbourne Cup crusade.
Helenus five-year-old Cedarberg has been strong in the futures betting markets for both the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and the $6 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) since odds opened on the Melbourne Spring Carnival showpieces.
In the autumn Cedarberg emerged as a genuine Spring Cups threat when he upset many talented stayers including Mourayan, Linton and Hawk Island as a 25-1 roughie in the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill on April 2.
Carey and Cedarberg missed their chance of a run in the iconic Melbourne Cup field last spring, but starting this Saturday they are going all the way to Flemington Race 7 on Tuesday November 1.
Cedarberg’s win in The BMW not only gave them a Group 1 title and boosted their prize money to over the $1.5 million mark, but also earned the stayer a Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup ballot exemption.
“It’s a nice position to be in,” Carey said.
“He’s a sound five-year-old and many of his age group aren’t there such as So You Think who is overseas, and Monaco Consul is retired and some struggled during the autumn.”
Having run an eye-catching second to Linton in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield last October, Cedarberg failed to earn a run in the ‘race that stops a nation’ when they flopped next start finishing a distant ninth to subsequent Melbourne Cup runner-up Maluckyday in the Group 3 The Lexus Stakes (2500m).
Having won at elite level and had a few more runs at Flemington, Carey is confident Cedarberg can be a competitive danger in the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups this season.
They will get an early chance to stretch their legs when resuming in the $150,000 Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.
There were 24 Aurie’s Star Handicap nominations this year with other headline entries including Queenslander Temple Of Boom, AAMI Vase winner Rekindled Interest, Autumn Classic champion Folding Gear, last-start All Victorian Sprint Series Final winner Perturbo and eight from the stables of Robert Hickmott including Irish St Leger champion Alandi.
Carey warned that if there was more rain in Victoria leading up to Saturday’s Flemington race meeting he would possibly withdraw Cedarberg from the Aurie’s Star Handicap.
“If it’s a heavy track, he probably wouldn’t run,” Carey said.
Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate 2011 nominations close today, while connections of Melbourne Cup hopefuls have until midday on September 1 to enter their horses into the world’s richest handicap.
In the current 2011 Caulfield Cup odds Cedarberg is rated a $51 chance while the futures Melbourne Cup betting markets have him at $61.
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