Recently inducted Hall Of Fame trainer Chris...
Major spring carnival contender December Draw is set to return to the winner’s stall at Flemington on Saturday, the Mark Kavanagh-trained imported stayer out to win their way into the 2011 Melbourne Cup field.
Medecis five-year-old December Draw joined Melbourne Cup winning trainer Kavanagh’s Flemington stables this year having previously been prepared by William Knight in Europe.
Purchased by co-owner Robert Pegum, who won the 2000 Melbourne Cup with Brew and also owns shares in Bart Cummings’ 2011 Melbourne Cup-bound German import Illo, December Draw instantly made an impact in Australia winning their opening two starts at Flemington in May.
After a narrow victory over the mile on debut, the gelding put a minimum five lengths on their rivals when defeating Gold In Dubai in the Banjo Paterson Heat (2000m) on May 21.
Turned out for a three month break, they resumed on August 20 at Moonee Valley when defeated a quarter-length finishing second to Philda over 1523m.
It was a promising return, despite December Draw being the beaten favourite, and a run that hinted at lots of improvement to come.
That improvement is needed, however, if December Draw is to one, qualify for the spring cups, and two, live up to their short-odds in the futures Cup odds at Luxbet.
With the release of weights for the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), December Draw is well down the order of entry with 50kg and being yet to pass the first elimination clause.
Despite this, with Kavanagh behind their preparation and their solid record at Flemington, the punters have flocked to December Draw to not only qualify for the $6 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) on the first Tuesday of November, but hand Kavanagh his second Loving Trophy to add to the one he scored with the now-retired Shocking in 2009.
The journey into Melbourne Cup eligibility continues at Flemington on Saturday, December Draw the firm $2 favourite at Luxbet to win Race 8 – the $70,000 Sofitel Girls’ Day Out Handicap (2000m).
Already December Draw is short in the futures Caulfield and Melbourne Cup 2011 odds paying $16 and $19 respectively.
Their price in the Caulfield Cup betting markets is incredibly firm considering it is equal odds with the last year’s runner-up Maluckyday.
For the Melbourne Cup, December Draw is actually at a worse price than defending Melbourne Cup winner Americain ($21).
Kavanagh is tipping December Draw to progress nicely over the coming weeks as he steps up in distance, 2000 metres and beyond where he will really start to show his Cup credentials.
Pegum also believes he has unearthed a genuine Melbourne Cup chance in December Draw, who he rates as even more exciting than another on his books, the Chris Waller-trained Group 1 winner My Kingdom Of Fife.
“It is hard to knock My Kingdom Of Fife on what he has done but, to me, December Draw looks more exciting,” Pegum said.
“My Kingdom Of Fife came over here with a higher rating and surprised us.
“He won the (Group One) Queen Elizabeth at his second start and should have won the Doomben Cup.
“He has already done it, but December Draw has come over and improved his rating from 95 to 112 and has scope to keep going.”
The most likely ballot free race December Draw will attempt to win and qualify through is the $125,000 Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on September 17.
“You have to remember with these horses, it is not grand final day yet,” Pegum continued.
“December Draw has improved a lot from that first run and I expect he will win on the weekend.
“We would like to think he would get to the Cups, but he is a horse that needs to win his way there.”
To get behind December Draw this weekend, and the resuming My Kingdom Of Fife who is race favourite in the $175,000 Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm, head to Luxbet and lock in Australian racing’s best odds.
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