Fresh off a double-shot of feature race wins at Sydney last Saturday, ace jockey Nash Rawiller is confident of adding another Group 1 win to his improving record this season when he takes the prized mount on 2012 Australian Cup favourite Lucas Cranach in the Flemington classic on Saturday.
Anthony Freedman’s imported German galloper Lucas Cranach overtook former Melbourne Cup winner Americain in the horse racing odds for the $1 million Group 1 Dubai Australian Cup (2000m) after they drew barrier one and Americain came up with gate nine of nine.
Mamool five-year-old Lucas Cranach, who also beat Americain by one when third in last year’s Melbourne Cup, now sits at the top of the Australian Cup odds at a quote of $3.00 through bookmaker.com.au.
Americain, due to race for the first time this year and making their debut for new trainer David Hayes, is not far behind occupying the second line of Australian Cup betting at a quote of $3.10.
While the race most certainly is on Rawiller, who took out the Group 2 Silver Slipper Stakes with Pierro and the Group 2 Hobartville Stakes on protest with Wild And Proud last Saturday, believes Lucas Cranach will be first across the line holding the fitness edge of their worthy rival.
Lucas Cranach easily defeated a field full of fellow Australian Cup hopes first-up in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 25, and while Rawiller knows Saturday’s assignment is much tougher he is still backing the favourite.
“I imagine it would be even harder on Saturday but I’m brimming with confidence, really,” Rawiller said.
“There’s no reason not to be.
“I couldn’t have been happier with him last start.
“He gave me a beautiful ride and travelled into the race extremely well.
“I was full of confidence before we straightened for home and from the 500 (metre mark) to the 400 he put himself right on the bunny basically in the space of 100 metres.
“I thought it was a great win.”
The other main challenges in the 2012 Australian Cup, which is due to run as Flemington Race 7 at 4:00pm on Saturday, are tipped to come from the Bart Cummings-trained Peter Young runner-up Illo ($8 bookmaker.com.au) and well-known feature race stayer Manighar ($8.50 bookmaker.com.au).
Of course, over 2000-metres at Flemington it would also be a brave punter to rule out another European import, Glass Harmonium.
The Michael Moroney-trained six-year-old looks excellent value at $10 through bookmaker.com.au having won the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes at the track and distance on Derby Day after finishing a short-half-head away second to December Draw in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.
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