Two of Australia’s premier trainers Gai Waterhouse and the ‘Cups King’ Bart Cummings have officially booked jockeys for their standout 2011 Melbourne Cup mounts ahead of the iconic Flemingtonshowdown next Tuesday.
Tim Clark has been confirmed to ride Waterhouse’s Older Than Time in the $6.2 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) while Cummings’ German import Illo will be ridden by two-time Melbourne Cup winning hoop Jim Cassidy.
Waterhouse still has four from her stable entered for the Melbourne Cup this year, but her Don Eduardo mare Older Than Time is the only one of the quartet assured of a start in the world’s richest handicap sitting 22nd in the order of entry.
Runner-up in the Sydney Cup over the two-miles back in April, Older Than Time could very well be the sole Australian-bred and trained stayer in this year’s Melbourne Cup with a record number of both internationally-trained and imported horses in contention, something Waterhouse hasn’t shied away from slamming.
“Our (race) clubs should pull their socks up,” she said.
“All the Cups have come back in distance…it’s a travesty, it’s really a shame.
“You know people love staying races and they bet on them.
“Look at this Melbourne Cup….it stops a nation. It runs for two miles (3200 metres) and we love it.”
Hall of Famer Waterhouse established the booking of lightweight Clark, who will ride Older Than Time at just 51kg for the Melbourne Cup, in her online blog.
“Two jockeys that stand out,” Waterhouse said.
“One is Tim Clark who is riding with exceptional vigour in Hong Kong.”
The other hoop that Waterhouse praised was the in-form Craig Williams, winner of the Caulfield Cup (Southern Speed), Geelong Cup (Duanden) and Cox Plate (Pinker Pinker) within a stunning seven day period last week.
Williams has been booked to ride Older Than Time in their final Cup hit-out in this Saturday’s $250,000 Group 3 The Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day.
The Melbourne Cup field limit is 24 starters, meaning Waterhouse’s other hopefuls Tullamore (25th), Two For Tea (41st) and Western Symbol (47th) are not assured of a start.
Tullamore is a strong chance of making the cut if a horse higher above them is withdrawn and horses below them in the Melbourne Cup ballot don’t win a ballot exempt race such as the Mackinnon Stakes or Lexus Stakes this weekend.
Two For Tea and Western Symbol, both weighted on 50kg, are engaged to race in this afternoon’s $200,000 Listed Bendigo Cup (2400m) attempting to win and hopefully attract a penalty from Racing Victoria’s chief handicapper Greg Carpenter to move up the order of entry.
Of Waterhouse’s Melbourne Cup chances it is Caulfield Cup third placegetter and last start runner-up to reigning Melbourne Cup winner Americain in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup Tullamore that is at the shortest odds paying $18 through Luxbet.
Older Than Time follows in the markets as a $101 long-shot while Western Symbol and Two For Tea pay $301 and $410 respectively.
Meanwhile Cummings still has three of his stayers in Melbourne Cup contention, two of which are inside the top 24 with Precedence (11th) and Illo (18th).
Cummings also has Cosmonaut well below them sitting 44th in the Melbourne Cup ballot, the Starcraft gelding also engaged for today’s Bendigo Cup at 3:00pm (AEDST) with ace hoop Luke Nolen booked for the ride.
Having run an eye-catching third in the Moonee Valley Cup in their Australian race debut when ridden by Nolen, Illo has been one of the best-backed horses in the Melbourne Cup odds into $14 at Luxbet.
Precedence, who will be ridden in the Melbourne Cup by Hong Kong-based Australian jockey Darren Beadman, is paying $31 while unlikely starter Cosmonaut is a $301 roughie.
Cummings is vying for an unprecedented 13th Melbourne Cup success, while aboard Illo Cassidy will be looking to add a third Loving Trophy to his name having previously taken out the ‘race that stops a nation’ with Might And Power (1997) and Kiwi (1983).
The 2011 Emirates Melbourne Cup final field and barrier draw will be taken from Flemington Racecourse on Saturday afternoon directly after the nine-race Victoria Derby Day program.
Races.com.au will have all the Derby Day coverage including the Melbourne Cup field announcement so make sure you stay tuned.
In the meantime get your futures Melbourne Cup bets locked in at the best prices in the country by signing up with Luxbet now.
2012 Melbourne Cup Odds