Dedicated Flemington-based trainer Mark Kavanagh was over the moon with gate 11 for his raging 2011 Caulfield Cup favourite December Draw in today’s barrier draw, and expressed his confidence in the horse finishing in the top eight on Saturday and progressing onto the 2011 Melbourne Cup next month.
Kavanagh, who prepared his first Melbourne Cup winner in 2009 with the since-retired Shocking, had no issues with barrier 11 for the $2.5 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) on Saturday, which will become gate nine if the four Caulfield Cup emergencies fail to gain a start.
“I’m pretty happy with that,” he said.
“We can use a little bit of speed to get across and not get trapped too much if there’s a lot of outside gate speed and he’s got a chance from there to stay out of trouble.
“He’s got plenty of courage and he’s not the biggest bloke there, you don’t see him pushing the others out of the way, but he should get into a good place from there.”
December Draw, who has won five of his six starts in Australia since debuting down under on May 7, has been questioned when it comes to racing over the 2400 metres for the first time on Saturday.
His trainer, however, believes in their ability as a stayer and has faith that they will not only make the 2400m but will be able to go all the way to the first Tuesday of November at Flemington and run the two miles in the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).
“I believe he’ll run in, certainly looking at paper I believe he will run it,” Kavanagh said.
Last start on October 2, imported Medecis gelding December Draw held on in a tight finish to defeat fellow import Glass Harmonium in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) on a Dead (5) track.
Kavanagh said he was “trying to keep a lid on it” but that having seen the way December Draw had progressed through his runs, and the way they had come through the Turnbull, it was hard not to get excited about their Spring Cups potential.
“He’s gone ahead in leaps and bounds since then (the Turnbull), so we couldn’t be happier,” he said.
“It is pretty exciting because he has improved every run.
“You can’t fault his form, he’s improved every time.”
December Draw has retained their firm favouritism in the 2011 Caulfield Cup odds at Luxbet following this morning’s barrier draw, currently paying $2.30 to win.
Lucas Cranach is the only other runner under double-digits in the Caulfield Cup and is likely to firm in form their current quote of $7 at Luxbet having drawn gate three.
As for the ‘other’ Cup, the Anthony Freedman-trained German import Lucas Cranach is installed as the $10 co-favourite in the Melbourne Cup odds at Luxbet with defending champion Americain.
Occupying the second line of Melbourne Cup betting at Luxbet is then December Draw at $11.
In the latest 2011 Melbourne Cup Order of Entry, updated on October 10, Lucas Cranach is assured of a start in the ‘race that stops a nation’ sitting 22nd on the ballot.
December Draw, however, is further down the Melbourne Cup elimination order in 36th position and needs to finish in the Caulfield Cup top eight to guarantee a start in the 24-horse Melbourne Cup field.
Kavanagh is bullish the horse can run in the top eight, but that if disaster struck and it didn’t happen he would have to consider running in a race such as the $250,000 Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) or the $1 million Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m), both at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day, and seek a Melbourne Cup ballot exemption.
“I would have to consider the Lexus or Mackinnon,” Kavanagh said.
“But the bookies are bad judges if he doesn’t (finish in the first eight)!”
To view the full 2011 Caulfield Cup Field & Odds, and to access the juicy futures markets open on the Melbourne Cup 2011, visit our preferred online bookmaker Luxbet today.
2012 Melbourne Cup Odds