The Australian Cup 2012 field is beginning to take shape after local Flemington-based trainer David Hayes announced he would accept for just one of his four nominees for the autumn feature this weekend, former Melbourne Cup winner Americain.
Hayes currently has four from his stables among the official entries for the $1 million Group 1 Dubai Australian Cup (2000m), which runs alongside the 2012 Newmarket Handicap at Flemington on Saturday, but has confirmed current horse racing odds favourite Americain will be his sole representative in the feature.
While the former French-trained stayer Americain will jump the bookmaker.com.au top elect when racing first-up in the 2012 Australian Cup on Saturday, Hayes’ other entries Budai, Extra Zero and Largo Lad will all be saved to avoid a clash with their champion stablemate.
Americain, last seen winning the Zipping Classic at Sandown in November, has led the Australian Cup odds at bookmaker.com.au since markets opened sitting at a quote of around $3.40.
Their main danger for Saturday is close second-elect Lucas Cranach, Anthony Freedman’s German import to hold the fitness edge over Americain after their brilliant resuming win in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 25.
Support in the Australian Cup betting and among the industry is divided when it comes to which imported galloper will snare the Australian Cup title on Saturday.
Hayes is 100 percent happy and confident that although Americain goes into the clash without a first-up run, the slightly unconventional preparation will ensure they are the horse to beat.
“Everything is good and I’m looking forward to the weekend,” Hayes, who shoots for his third Australian Cup victory following those of Better Loosen Up (1991) and Niconero (2009), said.
“He’s in great shape and really going well.
“He never really went out of work, had a working holiday, out in a day paddock, on the water walker, it was like teaching a 38-year-old human to swim.
“Most horses learn it when they are very young; in my stable they all learn to do that as two-year-olds. It has kept his mind active.
“Really, he has had an uninterrupted prep, nothing has gone wrong, it is all you can ask for. If he has a bit of race-day luck, I’m sure he can run well.”
Firmly in favour of a Lucas Cranach upset is then Lee Freedman, brother of the stable’s new head trainer Anthony.
The Mamool five-year-old got the better of defending champion Americain in last year’s Melbourne Cup clash finishing an excellent third ahead of Americain’s eye-catching fourth, and Freedman hopes it will be a similar story on Saturday.
“I think the run (in the Peter Young) has improved him and he did a bit of pace work on Thursday and seemed nice and bright,” Freedman said.
“Americain’s the measuring stick but we’re in with a show.
“He (Lucas Cranach) is pretty well fit for the Australian Cup now as he proved the other day.”
It could be a below capacity Australian Cup field 2012 when acceptances are taken on Wednesday with 19 remaining in contention excluding Hayes’ unlikely trio.
Other notable imports to test themselves in the Australian Cup include the four horses that finished in order behind Lucas Cranach in the Peter Young stakes with Bart Cummings’ improver Illo (2nd), the now Peter Moody-trained Manighar (3rd), Mike Moroney’s Mackinnon Stakes hero Glass Harmonium (4th) and last year’s Caulfield Cup winning mare Southern Speed (5th).
Prior to her run in the Peter Young Southern Speed, who sits fifth in the Australian Cup betting markets, was a brave second behind superstar mare Black Caviar in the CF Orr Stakes and connections are still questioning why she didn’t finish top three last start.
“The one thing I keep coming back to was that it was a very hot day and I really did think it affected her,” co-trainer Leon Macdonald.
“She raced a bit flat but in saying that, she did sit three wide throughout.
“I’m not a jockey bagger but that wasn’t one of Craig’s (Williams) better rides.
“On Saturday, I want her to be ridden a bit quieter, like she was when she won first-up and then again in the Orr [Stakes] when she really found the line.
“But the secret to her might be getting out to a trip now.”
Bookmark us here at Races.com.au to view the full Flemington race fields for this Saturday’s events, including the Australian Cup, when acceptances are released on Wednesday.
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2012 Dubai Australian Cup Nominations, Weights & Ballot
Flemington – 10/03/2012
|1||AMERICAIN (USA)||David Hayes||1||59kg||117|
|2||BUDAI (GER)||David Hayes||20||59kg||100|
|3||EFFICIENT (NZ)||Robert Hickmott||22||59kg||112|
|4||EXTRA ZERO||David Hayes||18||59kg||100|
|5||GLASS HARMONIUM (IRE)||Michael Moroney||6||59kg||115|
|6||GREEN MOON (IRE)||Robert Hickmott||12||59kg||103|
|7||ILLO (GER)||Bart Cummings||21||59kg||108|
|8||KING DIAMOND||Peter G Moody||15||59kg||99|
|9||LARGO LAD||David Hayes||19||59kg||100|
|10||LUCAS CRANACH (GER)||Anthony Freedman||10||59kg||112|
|11||MANIGHAR (FR)||Peter G Moody||7||59kg||110|
|12||MOURAYAN (IRE)||Robert Hickmott||5||59kg||110|
|13||MY BENTLEY (NZ)||Michael Kent||17||59kg||99|
|14||PLAYING GOD||Neville Parnham||4||59kg||108|
|15||PRECEDENCE (NZ)||Bart Cummings||9||59kg||107|
|17||TULLAMORE (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||11||59kg||105|
|18||ZAVITE (NZ)||Anthony Cummings||2||59kg||110|
|19||SOUTHERN SPEED||Leon Macdonald & Andrew Gluyas||3||57kg||112|
|20||SANGSTER (NZ)||Trent Busuttin||8||54.5kg||108|
|21||STRIKE THE STARS (NZ)||Anthony Cummings||14||54.5kg||96|
|22||THAT’S THE ONE||Colin & Cindy Alderson||16||54.5kg||89|