It has been revealed that pronounced favourite to take out the 2011 Caulfield Cup this Saturday, Mark Kavanagh’s crack import December Draw, will face a record four internationally-trained stayers after final acceptances for the $2.5 million feature were taken this morning.
There were 23 acceptors for the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), four of which are prepared overseas.
The official Caulfield Cup 2011 final field of 18 starters and four emergencies is being finalised by the Melbourne Racing Club committee and will be released at 3:30pm (EDT) this afternoon.
While the final starter will be either Macedonian, Spechenka or Green Moon, and emergencies yet to be confirmed, there are currently 16 horses guaranteed a spot in the starting line-up on Saturday.
At the top of the Caulfield Cup field and betting markets at Luxbet is the December Draw who impressed connections with their final piece of work this morning before the big show on Saturday.
In the pre-field Caulfield Cup odds at Luxbet December Draw was at $2.50, a price that is certain to be shorter when markets reopen this afternoon.
The Medecis gelding has form up to 2000 metres, four of their five victories in Australia being over this distance including their maiden Group 1 victory in the Turnbull Stakes last start, but December Draw is as yet untested over the Caulfield Cup distance of 2400 metres.
Kavanagh predicts they will stay, and the horse showed glimpses of this at Flemington this morning as they blitzed a 2000m gallop on the steeplegrass, their final 400m completing in a sizzling 23.44 seconds.
“It was a very strong gallop by a fit racehorse,” Warren Huntley, Flemington clocker, said.
One person hoping December Draw doesn’t live up to the hype when racing over the extended distance is English horseman Brian Ellison who prepares one of the four internationals in the Caulfield Cup field, Saptapadi.
“December Draw was definitely a mile-and-a-quarter horse (2000m) in England, that’s all he ever ran,” Ellison said.
“I would query him getting the trip and he is rated 10 pound below what we are back home.”
Still, Ellison knows that December Draw’s impressive form down under is just that, impressive, and admits they are the deserved favourite.
“He deserves to be favourite because he keeps winning,” Ellison said.
“He’s done nothing wrong.”
In the ante-post Caulfield Cup markets at Luxbet yesterday Saptapadi was at $51, but Ellison believes they will be more competitive than their price suggests and was happy with their four lengths away eighth to Shewan in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield last Saturday.
“Saptapadi’s got to run in the Caulfield Cup, that’s what we came out here for,” he said.
“But the big thing is to get a good draw.
“We don’t want to draw 18 of 18 – it just makes life so hard.
“Last Saturday we drew wide (barrier 15 of 15) and he was on the outside all the way around.
“I thought he ran very well, he had a good ‘blow’ after the race because it was his first run in two months.
“If my fellow gets a good draw, he will be up there on the pace, just behind the leaders and he’ll run a race.”
Ellison, and the connections of all the other Caulfield Cup chances, will have to wait until 11am (EDT) tomorrow for the 2011 Caulfield Cup barrier draw which will be done live at Caulfield Racecourse before the action of Thousand Guineas Day.
The other overseas-trained Caulfield Cup 2011 hopes are John Moore’s Hong Kong galloper Mighty High, and the Luca Cumani-trained duo of Drunken Sailor and Manighar.
Cumani’s other earlier Caulfield Cup entries Bauer and Sahara Sun were not paid up for this morning.
It will be Manighar’s second shot at Caulfield Cup glory after they finished three lengths away fifth to Descarado 12 months ago.
“He’s a year older, a year stronger and a year wiser,” stable representative and daughter of Luca, Francesca Cumani said.
Meanwhile, Drunken Sailor gets their first Caulfield Cup run having missed a start last year and is the pick of the pair according to Francesca.
“The Caulfield Cup is more suited to Drunken Sailor than Manighar,” she said.
“Drunken Sailor has more turn of foot, he races handy, he tries hard and thrives in a tough battle.”
Along with the four internationally-trained Caulfield Cup runners, there are 11 other internationally-bred acceptors which includes New Zealand-bred horses.
The most notable of these is Anthony Freedman’s German import Lucas Cranach who is the second-favourite behind December Draw in the Caulfield Cup betting at Luxbet.
The only Australian-bred gallopers in Caulfield Cup contention this year are Absolutely, Domesky, Dream Pedlar, Niwot, Southern Speed, Spechenka, Lucky Eighty Eight and Midnight Martini.
Bookmark us here at Races.com.au for all the latest Caulfield Cup 2011 field and odds updates and in the meantime, get ready for the release of the updated markets by signing up with Luxbet now.