Dedicated European horseman Luca Cumani is playing a nervous waiting game ahead of the Melbourne Cup 2011 with two of his four hopefuls sweating on a start in the world’s richest handicap.
Cumani, who has twice prepared a Melbourne Cup runner-up with Purple Moon (2007) and Bauer (2008) but is as yet to taste success in the famous Flemington feature, could have four starters in this year’s edition of the ‘race that stops a nation’.
Currently two from Cuamni’s stables are guaranteed a start in the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday November 1 with Manighar (6th) and Drunken Sailor (9th) residing safely inside the top 24 in the order of entry.
Caulfield Cup seventh placegetter Drunken Sailor is rated a $31 chance in the latest Melbourne Cup odds at Luxbet, which are led by defending winner Americain ($3.90), while Manighar who ran seventh in last year’s Melbourne Cup is at a quote of $41.
Linamix gelding Manighar was last seen finishing three lengths away fourth in the Caulfield Cup, which was a nice run hinting at improvement to come according to Cumani.
“I thought he ran a good, solid race in the Caulfield Cup, but the 2400 metres is too short for him,” Cumani said.
“He looks like a stronger, more mature horse this year.”
Further down the latest Melbourne Cup ballot are then the fellow Cumani-trained stablemates Sahara Sun (24th), who is right on the edge of a spot in the starting line-up, and Bauer (29th) who is back for a second shot at the feature following their devastatingly close second to the Bart Cummings-trained Viewed three years ago.
After making the decision not to run nine-year-old grey Bauer again before the Cup, Cumani is hoping a number of horses higher up the ballot drop out of contention for the veteran to move up.
Bauer has had two starts in Australia this spring running a credible sixth from a bad barrier in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield before their unlucky third last-start to Melbourne Cup second elect Dunaden in the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) on October 19.
With so many international horses in Melbourne Cup contention this year, 12 of the current top 24 prepared outside of Australia and New Zealand, the chance of runners withdrawing is lower than in previous years which could be a problem for Bauer.
“What we won’t see, I don’t think this year is the normal attrition rate,” Bauer’s part-owner Simon O’Donnell said.
“With so many internationals in that top 18 or 20 horses, I don’t believe we’ll see as many starting to drop out of the race as we generally do when there’s a lot more Australian and New Zealand horses involved.
“There’s nothing anything anyone can do.
“Luca will continue to train him (Bauer) to run in the Melbourne Cup.
“If that’s not the case come Saturday night well we’ll readjust to something a little later in the week.”
A stable favourite, Bauer is so important to the Cumani clan that the trainer said he would consider withdrawing one of his other Melbourne Cup hopes to get the galloper into the field should it come to that.
“We’ll worry about that if the possibility arises, but at this stage we are only sure of having two runnrs,” Cumani said.
Despite being far from a certain Melbourne Cup runner come next Tuesday, Bauer has been well-supported in the markets at Luxbet now into $16.
Meanwhile, former Chilean racehorse Sahara Sun will look to secure their spot in the top 24 for the Melbourne Cup by contesting tomorrow’s $200,000 Listed Bendgio Cup (2400m).
“I expect him to be able to take a position in the first half dozen, we’ll see what happens from there,” Cumani said.
“He has trained well and he looks well so I’m very hopeful.”
Drawn in barrier 10 of 13 in the Bendigo Cup field, Sahra Sun will be ridden by Dwayne Dunn as they face a field full of fellow Melbourne Cup hopefuls including the Robert Hickmott-trained duo At First Sight and Tanby who are the Bendigo Cup favourites at Luxbet paying $3.30 and $4.20 respectively.
Sahara Sun is rated a $151 roughie in the Melbourne Cup betting at Luxbet and are paying $13 in the Bendigo Cup markets.
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2012 Melbourne Cup Odds