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Early 2011 Caulfield Cup betting favourite December Draw has come up trumps with the inside alley for this Saturday’s $125,000 Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m), the Mark Kavanagh-trained import looking to secure the Cup ballot exemption on offer to the winner.
Medecis five-year-old December Draw headlines an impressive 2011 Naturalism Stakes final field of 16 starters plus two emergencies, the gelding to have just their fifth start on Aussie turf and their first at Caulfield.
From four starts since joining Kavanagh’s stables, December Draw has won three from three at Flemington and was only defeated a quarter length when second at Moonee Valley last month.
Sure to start near odds-on territory in the Luxbet markets for Saturday, December Draw is yet to pass the first elimination clause for the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 15.
Kavanagh is hopeful they can continue their excellent form with a win on the weekend, making them exempt from Caulfield Cup ballot and subsequently moving them into contention for the other Cup, the $6.2 million Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on the first Tuesday of November.
Despite their predicament being so far down the ballot, December Draw is already installed as the $7.50 favourite in the futures Caulfield Cup 2011 odds at Luxbet, the sole nominee at a single-figure price to win.
They are also well-liked in the 2011 Melbourne Cup betting at a price of $13, second only to the Danny O’Brien-trained Shamrocker ($11).
While Shamrocker will continue her Cup campaign by racing in the $350,000 Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield this Saturday, December Draw will run in the Naturalism with Michael Rodd in the mount.
“I’m very pleased with how he’s raced this time back and how he’s gone on since, but the trick for Saturday’s race is to have him well enough to win and still leave some improvement left for the Caulfield Cup,” Kavanagh said earlier this week.
There are many other strong contenders out to stake their Caulfield Cup claims in the Naturalism Stakes this weekend.
Leading Sydney trainer Gai Waterhouse has two lining up in reigning The Metropolitan winner Herculian Prince and her former AJC Oaks winner Once Were Wild, the stablemates drawn wide in barriers 15 and 16 respectively.
Both are being sent down the Cups path and are $61 outsiders in Caulfield Cup betting at Luxbet.
Meanwhile last year’s Caulfield Cup runner-up Harris Tweed is the 58kg topweight of the Naturalism Stakes field, the Kiwi galloper looking to bounce back after their disappointing run beating home just one other runner in the Group 2 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington a fortnight ago.
Adding even more interest in this year’s Naturalism Stakes is the inclusion of Black And Bent, Robert Smerdon giving the champion hurdler their first flat race since July.
The in-form Black Hawk six-year-old is coming off a five race winning streak, which included a stunning 12 length victory in the Grand National Hurdle (3900m) and an equally impressive eight length win in the J.J. Houlahan Hurdle (3400m) at Sandown Lakeside last month, but Smerdon knows back to the flats over 2000 metres won’t work in their favour on Saturday.
“It’s not a race he could win on Saturday,” Smerdon admitted.
“It is going to be a hot race but it keeps him ticking over towards a longer race for him next time which will be more significant for him going forward.”
All the 2011 D’Urban Naturalism Stakes acceptors, barriers and jockeys are listed below.
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2011 Naturalism Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rtg.|
|1||X98125X8X0||HARRIS TWEED (NZ)||Murray Baker||Brad Rawiller||13||58kg||110|
|2||5190X707X0||HERCULIAN PRINCE (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Ben Melham||15||56.5kg||106|
|3||1X23245X06||AT FIRST SIGHT (IRE)||Robert Hickmott||Steven King||12||56kg||105|
|4||30X40919X8||ONCE WERE WILD||Gai Waterhouse||Damien Oliver||16||55.5kg||109|
|5||4211255X00||DREAM PEDLAR||Troy Blacker||Craig Newitt||5||54.5kg||101|
|6||2X70067170||LIGHT VISION (NZ)||Robert Smerdon||Chris Symons||9||54.5kg||101|
|7||21X40121X0||NIWOT||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Dean Yendall||11||54.5kg||101|
|8||12X6611111||BLACK AND BENT||Robert Smerdon||Glen Boss||17||54kg||100|
|9||5698X11X21||DECEMBER DRAW (IRE)||Mark Kavanagh||Michael Rodd||1||54kg||100|
|10||82281947X7||MY BENTLEY (NZ)||Michael Kent||James McDonald (a)||18||53.5kg||99|
|11||2362X78X00||EXCEPTIONALLY (NZ)||Terry & Karina O’Sullivan||Danny Nikolic||7||53kg||99|
|12||52X53230X9||ABOVE AVERAGE (IRE)||Anthony Freedman||Ms Lisa Cropp||8||53kg||98|
|13||31111X5X37||LUCKY EIGHTY EIGHT||Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra||–||4||53kg||96|
|14||3332190X80||GUEST WING||Shane A Edwards||Michael Walker||6||53kg||93|
|15||505X90X097||ZAGREB||David Hayes||James Winks||14||53kg||93|
|16||42103132X5||I’M JAKE (NZ)||David Brideoake||Dwayne Dunn||2||53kg||90|
|17e||706X66212X||MONTAHLIA (NZ)||Michael Kent||Ibrahim Gundogdu (a)||10||53kg||90|
|18e||032322X004||ANUDJAWUN (NZ)||Shaun Dwyer||–||3||53kg||89|
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