Three horses have been re-handicapped for the 2011 Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup 2011 by Racing Victoria’s chief handicap Greg Carpenter today, most notably the Mark Kavanagh-trained favourite to win both spring majors, December Draw.
Kavanagh’s bargain buy import December Draw stormed to the top of the betting markets at Luxbet for both the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 15 and the $6.2 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) following their victory in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
The five-year-old Medecis gelding is now exempt from ballot for the Caulfield Cup 2011, and as such has firmed into the pronounced $4 favourite to win.
Originally allocated just 50kg in the Caulfield Cup weights, December Draw has been penalised for their Naturalism Stakes success and is now at 52kg for both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.
“Since the release of Caulfield Cup weights on 31 August, December Draw has won two races in impressive fashion,” Carpenter said today.
“In the first (at Flemington on September 3) he comfortably defeated subsequent Newcastle Cup winner Green Moon and he was again dominant on Saturday in the Naturalism Stakes.
“As a result of the penalties he now meets At First Sight, who finished second in the Naturalism, and last year’s Caulfield Cup runner-up Harris Tweed, who was unplaced in Saturday’s race, 1.5kg worse in both Cups.”
The penalty is a 1.5kg increase on their original Melbourne Cup weight, but December Draw is still yet to quality for the world’s richest handicap as they have not passed the first elimination clause for the famous Flemington feature the stipulate an entrant must win a race of 2300 metres or further.
Despite this, December Draw has moved into equal $9 favouritism in the Melbourne Cup odds at Luxbet with Saturday’s upset Underwood Stakes winner Lion Tamer.
2012 Melbourne Cup Odds
Futures all-in betting showing top 24 horses.
Punters haven’t been scared to take December Draw in the early Melbourne Cup markets as a top eight finish in the Caulfield Cup will be enough to see them pass the first ballot clause.
Saturday’s Naturalism Stakes runner-up, the Lloyd Williams-owned four-year-old Galileo import At First Sight has moved up the Caulfield Cup ballot into equal 33rd thanks to the result and is paying $10 in the Caulfield Cup odds at Luxbet.
The horse December Draw beat two starts back was another Williams-owned, Robert Hickmott-trained import, Green Moon.
Green Moon also recently passed the Caulfield Cup ballot clause with their gritty victory in the Group 3 Newcastle Gold Cup (2300m) last Wednesday, and was today handed a 0.5kg penalty increasing their Cups’ weight to 50.5kg.
“This is the first time since 1998 that we have penalised the winner of the Newcastle Cup which emphasises the merit of Green Moon’s victory,” Carpenter commented.
“It was a courageous performance and followed his second placing to Caulfield Cup favourite December Draw at his previous start at Flemington.”
The third horse to be handed a Caulfield – Melbourne Cups penalty today was Sunday’s German St Leger victor, Mark Johnston’s Fox Hunt.
Fox Hunt, stablemate of fellow Melbourne Cup-bound Jukebox Jury who recently won the Irish St Leger, is now at 53.5kg for the Melbourne Cup.
“It was a well deserved Group 3 win for Fox Hunt who had no luck at his previous two starts when finishing sixth as topweight in the Ebor Handicap behind Moyenne Corniche and fourth in the Group 2 Goodwood Cup when beaten only a half-length.”
Meanwhile, impressive New Zealand stayer and reigning Victoria Derby hero Lion Tamer also earned a Caulfield Cup ballot exemption with their Caulfield victory over the weekend.
The Murray Baker-trained four-year-old caught the eye of more than just a few racing enthusiasts and experts with their first-up run back home in the Group 1 Challenge Stakes (1400m) last month when fourth to Mufhasa, and proved their spring cups potential with a powerful win in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) on the weekend.
Lion Tamer remains well weighted with just 54kg for the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup, unable to be penalised for their Underwood Stakes success as the race was run under weight-for-age conditions.
Although they share favouritism with December Draw in the Melbourne Cup markets, Lion Tamer trails both December Draw and $7 second elect Scarlett Lady in the Caulfield Cup betting at Luxbet as connections are yet to confirm they will run in the race and not the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22 instead.
Caulfield Cup and 2011 Cox Plate second declarations will be released tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday September 20, and published right here at Races.com.au.
The taking of second acceptances will see markets for both spring showdowns readjusted, odds on the remaining hopefuls firming, making now the time to place your bets at Luxbet.