Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
The first race offering a Caulfield Cup 2011 ballot exemption will take centre stage at Flemington Racecourse this Saturday, the $300,000 Group 2 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) shaping up as a scintillating spring showdown with Caulfield Cup favourite Lights Of Heaven leading the field.
There are now 15 horses set to contest the weight-for-age Makybe Diva Stakes 2011 after connections chose to withdraw last year’s Melbourne Cup runner-up Maluckyday in favour of them resuming in the $175,000 Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm.
Clear favourite in the Makybe Diva Stakes odds at Luxbet is Peter Moody’s Zabeel mare Lights Of Heaven.
Lights Of Heaven has won four of her five starts to date, including the Group 1 Schweppes Oaks (2008m), her only loss being an unlucky second to Whobegotyou first-up in the Group 2 PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 13.
Punters are going crazy for her in the Saturday race markets and she is also getting plenty of support for the upcoming spring features.
Currently Lights Of Heaven is at $1.65 to win the Makybe Diva Stakes, very short odds for a mare who is capable, yes, but yet to prove herself a champion worthy of this price.
She is also the ante-post favourite for the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 15 paying $7, and co-favourite with Danny O’Brien’s dual Classics winner Shamrocker at $11 in the 2011 Melbourne Cup odds at Luxbet.
With BMW Caulfield Cup weights and the initial order of entry released this week, Lights Of Heaven looks guaranteed of a start in final field sitting equal 11th on the ballot with 51.5kg.
According to Racing Victoria’s chief handicapper Greg Carpenter, Lights Of Heaven is the right sex and age to become the 2011 Caulfield Cup winner.
“This could be the year – 10 years after the last four-year-old mare – that the females could be key players in the Caulfield Cup,” Carpenter, know not only as a handicapper but a chief racing analyst, said this week.
“I think this is where the real strength in the race is, in the four-year-olds.”
Despite the obvious class and claims of Lights Of Heaven, out to become just the third horse in the past two decades to win the race, Saturday’s Makybe Diva Stakes is sure to be a hotly contested affair.
Not only is there plenty of over-priced talent in the mix with generous odds available for the likes of Michael Moroney’s winter carnival revelation Glass Harmonium ($5) and boom Perth raider Playing God ($6.50), but there are also a plethora of gallopers out to qualify for a Caulfield Cups bid by claiming an upset win on the weekend.
One horse equal 11th on the Caulfield Cup elimination order with Lights Of Heaven is Murray Baker’s New Zealand stayer Harris Tweed, also contesting the Makybe Diva on Saturday.
Fellow Makybe Diva Stakes rivals that have passed the first elimination clause for the Caulfield Cup include Robert Hickmott’s import Midas Touch (equal 8th), Gai Waterhouse’s former AJC Oaks hero Once Were Wild (equal 19th) and Playing God (equal 19th).
Makybe Diva Stakes 2011 hopefuls further down the Caulfield Cup Ballot include:
- Master O’Reilly (59th)
- My Bentley (84th)
- Guest Wing (94th)
- Eruptious (94th)
- Littorio (yet to qualify)
- Alandi (yet to qualify)
- At First Sight (yet to qualify)
- Don Carlos (yet to qualify)
After this weekend, the next race offering a Caulfield Cup ballot exemption is the $400,000 Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley Saturday week, September 10.
If Lights Of Heaven gets beaten on Saturday, which is rare for Makybe Diva Stakes favourites, then there will be a major reshuffle of the Caulfield Cup betting markets at Luxbet.
Odds on any runner that puts in a good run tomorrow, even if they finish out of the money, will shorten for the Caulfield Cup at Luxbet so now is the time to get in on the action.
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