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Melbourne Cup 2011 nominations are out this Thursday, September 1, and after another brilliant jumps win from Australia’s ace hurdler Black And Bent, it is looking more likely that the world’s richest handicap this year will have a jumper among the field.
Black Hawk six-year-old Black And Bent, from the stables of Caulfield horseman Robert Smerdon, took their record to 17 wins from 40 starts when taking out the $100,000 JJ Houlahan Hurdle (32400m) at Betfair Park, Sandown on Sunday after starting odds-on at $1.16.
The victory was their fifth consecutive, 10th as a jumper and final of the 2011 jumping season as Black And Bent prepares for an ambitious but not totally unachievable ambush on the country’s most iconic race – the $6 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday November 1.
“It is a big ask but we will have a bit of fun trying to get there,” Smerdon said.
In a race marred by the untimely death of Eric Musgrove’s Sadler’s Wells five-year-old Fergus McIver, the gelding that collapsed and passed away at the last jump, Smerdon expressed his relief that Black And Bent had saluted as such a short-priced favourite.
“All the outwards signs were fine but they are only animals and the expectations are that it will just keep happening,” he said in regards to Black And Bent’s winning streak.
“But when you are the engineer of it or the architect of it you are supposed to make it happen.”
While Black And Bent is firm favourite to secure the Australian Jumper of the Year honours, the 2011 Melbourne Cup odds at Luxbet on the galloper are far nicer.
Black And Bent currently sits as an $81 roughie in the futures’ Melbourne Cup betting markets that are lead by $10 co-favourites Lights Of Heaven and Shamrocker.
While still very generous, this Melbourne Cup quote is in from the $101 Black And Bent was paying a fortnight ago.
Having taken out the Grand National Hurdle by an imposing 12 lengths earlier this month, Black And Bent certainly has displayed the staying power and ability to go all the way to the Melbourne Cup.
Looking back throughout history, only one horse has managed to achieve a Grand National Hurdle – Melbourne Cup winning double, Malua.
But even they did not achieve the feat in the same year, the 1884 Melbourne Cup winner Malua taking out the Grand National title two years later in 1886.
And Malua went from flat racing to jumps, making Black And Bent’s goal even more unique.
Black And Bent has flat raced before, 24 times before in fact, winning seven but is as yet to pass the Melbourne Cup first ballot clause.
After a brief break, connections will give Black And Bent the chance to take their first real step to securing a start in the ‘race that stops a nation’ with two different options on the card heading towards Melbourne Cup Day 2011.
“We will back off him and get a bit of freshness back in his legs going back for the shorter trips on the flat,” Smerdon explained.
Black And Bent would likely make their return to flat racing in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on September 17.
Connections then named either the $100,000 Listed Ansett Classic (2400m) at Mornington on Saturday October 1 or the $200,000 Listed The Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington the following day as the race Black And Bent would likely contest, and hopefully win, in order to pass the first ballot clause for the infamous Cup.
There is also a chance that should Black And Bent show enough progression off-track, that they could shoot for a top five finish in the $500,000 Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on September 30 instead.
“We’ll just take the weakest option,” Mike Symons, Black And Bent’s managing part-owner, said.
“We’ll have him really cranked up for whatever race we select.”
Now is the time to back Black And Bent in the Melbourne Cup betting markets before they win a flat race and firm in the odds.
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