On Wednesday Luca Cumani’s crowd favourite Bauer will run in the 2011 Geelong Cup in a do-or-die bid to get a second shot at the world’s richest handicap, the $6 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
The always gallant nine-year-old grey galloper is one of 13 stayers engaged in the $225,000 Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m), scheduled as Race 7 at 4:00pm (AEDST) tomorrow, and needs a top three finish to even pass the first elimination clause for the 2011 Melbourne Cup at Flemington on the first Tuesday of November.
Three years ago Bauer travelled to Australia for the first time and took out the 2008 Geelong Cup in their debut run down under.
At their next start Bauer came within a nose of the Bart Cummings-trained Viewed in that year’s edition of the iconic Melbourne Cup.
Bauer was out of action for over 22 months following their Melbourne Cup second, and missed out on the 2009 and 2010 editions of the world’s richest handicap due to injury.
Having recently returned to form back home in Great Britain winning their first race since the Geelong Cup three years ago, the Borough Cup (2815m) at Haydock Park in September, Bauer returned to Oz for this year’s Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
“He wasn’t in a position where he was going to really figure in the finish, however, he finished very strongly and won,” Cumani’s travelling foreman Charlie Henson said of Bauer in the Borough Cup.
Last start they ran a game sixth, beaten three lengths by winner Shewan in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield on October 8, in a run that was marred by their awkward gate.
Tomorrow Bauer is back at Geelong and is out become to first dual Geelong Cup winner since 1914, when the race was conducted over a shorter 1600 metres.
If successful he would also enter the history books as the oldest Geelong Cup winner since 1965, which was when the race distance was amended to its current 2400 metres, and be the third internationally-trained horse to win the race since 2002.
“We are praying that luck is with us and we can get that win,” Henson said.
Drawn in barrier nine and due to be ridden by Damien Oliver, who was aboard for the 2008 Geelong Cup victory at 56kg (0.5kg more than their 2008 weight), Bauer originally opened as the $5 second-elect behind the Robert Hickmott-trained Tanby ($3.50) in the Geelong Cup odds at Luxbet.
With money coming in for French raider Dunaden ($5.50 into $4.80), however, Bauer has drifted out in the markets and is now paying $5.50.
“What hasn’t changed in the last three years, and the nine years of his life for that matter, is his massive heart,” Henson said.
“He’s knee-high to a grasshopper but always puts in his best and always tries hard.”
Despite being a former Geelong Cup winner and Melbourne Cup runner-up, Bauer is yet to pass the first elimination clause for this year’s Melbourne Cup making their dream of another run in the iconic showdown a tough one to make reality.
“In the big picture he is up against it (to make the Melbourne Cup field) because he has to pass the ballot by finishing second or third at Geelong and probably has to win and get a weight penalty to secure a place,” Henson said.
Bauer is weighted on only 52kg for the Melbourne Cup 2011 and only $60,038 of his total career prize money ($1,165,615) counts towards a Cup qualification having been earned since August of 2009.
In the latest Melbourne Cup betting markets at Luxbet Americain, who won the Geelong Cup – Melbourne Cup double last year, is the $8 favourite followed by the Lloyd Williams-owned Green Moon who ran an eye-catching second in the Caulfield Cup over the weekend.
Further down the Melbourne Cup odds punters can find Bauer who is at a quote of $61 through Luxbet.
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2012 Melbourne Cup Odds