Trainer of Saturday’s Australian Cup 2012 top elect Lucas Cranach, Anthony Freedman believes highly-rated rival Americain should be installed at the top of the odds for the Flemington Super Saturday showdown.
Former French-trained stayer Americain, winner of the 2010 Melbourne Cup and an eye-catching fourth when defending their title in the ‘race that stops a nation’ last year, dominated the pre-post markets for the $1 million Group 1 Dubai Australian Cup (2000m) but are now sitting second in the markets at our number one recommended online bookmaker bookmaker.com.au.
Going into the Australian Cup first-up for the season and for new trainer David Hayes, the hulking Americain was regulated to second elect at $3.10 after drawing barrier nine of nine.
German import Lucas Cranach meanwhile was slashed into the $3 favourite following their inside Australian Cup barrier draw of one.
In a small nine-horse field over 2000-metres, however, barriers will matter little and Freedman knows that it would be a stupid man to write off Americain.
“He should be favourite, Americain,” Freedman said bluntly.
On paper Lucas Cranach holds a number of advantages after they won the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) first-up at Caulfield on February 25.
They also held off Americain to run third in the Melbourne Cup, but Freedman believes one more stride would have seen those placings reversed.
“He (Americain) meets us 4.5kg better for the Melbourne Cup,” Freedman pointed out.
“Americain is the best horse, his record says he’s the best horse and he’s the best in at the weights and we’ll have to be at our best to beat him.”
While believing the bookies may have it wrong, Freedman couldn’t be happier with where Lucas Cranach is at and said they were reaching peak fitness after coming through their resuming run in excellent order.
“He had a nice gallop on Tuesday and that will probably be it for the week because he’s fit and ready, he’s only going from 1800 metres to 2000 metres,” he said.
“I don’t know whether he’s improved so much since, maybe he’s just a little bit better.”
Meanwhile Steven Arnold is looking forward to the ride on Americain for the first time, the jockey saying that there would be no excuses, including the barrier, should he get beaten.
“He’s in great order and I don’t think there’ll be any excuses,” he said.
“He’s a horse who can adapt to the speed of a race.
“I’ve seen him race quite handy in races and also get back a bit.
“I think he can adapt to the speed of the race and the outside gate is not the end of the world.”
Following the dominant top two others with genuine Australian Cup claims on Saturday include the Bart Cummings-trained Illo ($8 bookmaker.com.au) coming off a second in the Peter Young, Peter Moody’s recent stable acquisition Manighar ($8.50 bookmaker.com.au) and Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed ($10 bookmaker.com.au) who is one of only two Aussie-bred hopes in the feature.