Cummings Fights for Melbourne Cup Win Number 13

The ‘Cups King’ Bart Cummings may have been absent from most of the headlines this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival but the veteran horseman believes he is still a chance of making it a bakers’ dozen in the world’s richest handicap with an upset win in the 2012 Melbourne Cup.

Bart Cummings

Bart Cummings has three chances to win the 2012 Melbourne Cup and make it 13 winners in the world's richest handicap

Cummings, 84, is the most successful Melbourne Cup trainer in history having prepared an incredible 12 Melbourne Cup winners over the years with:

  • Light Fingers (1965)
  • Galilee (1966)
  • Red Handed (1967)
  • Think Big (1974 & 1975)
  • Gold and Black (1977)
  • Hyperno (1979)
  • Kingston Rule (1990)
  • Let’s Elope (1991)
  • Saintly (1996)
  • Rogan Josh (1999)
  • Viewed (2008)

As the years have rolled on however Cummings’ annual Melbourne Cup contingent has seemed to lose steam.

The maestro had two hopefuls in last year’s $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) but the duo could only manage to finish 11th (Precedence) and 19th (German import Illo) behind the races’ second French-trained winner Dunaden.

For this year’s edition of the ‘race that stops a nation’, due to run as Flemington Race 7 Tuesday week, Cummings still officially has three hopefuls with Sanagas, Precedence and Dare To Dream.

Of the trio only one is assured of a start in the capacity 24-horse Melbourne Cup field with Sanagas sitting 11th on the latest order of entry.

While Precedence is 23rd in the current Melbourne Cup ballot, they could be pushed outside of the starting line-up with two ballot free races running at Flemington on Saturday, the winners of which could be elevated above them.

Cummings’ third hope Dare To Dream meanwhile is yet to even pass the first elimination clause for the Cup and is last (46th) on the order of entry.

All three are also roughies in the Melbourne Cup odds at – markets led by 2010 winner Americain ($6) and last year’s champ Dunaden ($7) – paying $51 (Sanagas), $101 (Precedence) and $251 (Dare To Dream).

Last seen running five lengths away 10th to Dunaden in the Caulfield Cup, Lomitas six-year-old Sanagas will now go straight into the Melbourne Cup clash, the former Grade 1 Hollywood Cup winner looking to regain their form when raced in the USA.

Cummings will then take his chances with the always-honest Zabeel seven-year-old Precedence, last seen running a credible fourth to Vatuvei in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m), who won’t race again until Melbourne Cup Day – assuming they make the cut.

It is unusual for Cummings’ not to have Sanagas and Precedence run on Victoria Derby Day as his only former Melbourne Cup winner not to have their lead-up race on the Saturday before the big one was Saintly (1996).

“They seem all right, they are fit enough, and clean winded, going pretty well,” Cummings said.

“They don’t need to run again.”

As for Danehill Dancer four-year-old Dare To Dream, last seen running seventh to Crafty Irna in the Listed City Tattersalls Club Cup (2400m) at Randwick a fortnight ago, Cummings will attempt to sneak them into the Melbourne Cup line-up by racing them in Saturday’s $250,000 Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m).

“This is Dare To Dream’s last chance, he has to run, it’s all we can do,” Cummings said.

“He’s a nice horse but last start, it was a fair run, that’s all.

“He got too far back that day, had no hope really. The big Flemington track will suit him.”

While a Lexus Stakes upset would see Dare To Dream qualify for the Cup, they would need a very sizeable penalty to then be assured of a run in the Melbourne Cup – Cup qualification for the Australians obviously a source of frustration for the racing legend.

“It is much easier for the foreigners to qualify,” Cummings said.

“They can win a $5000 Listed race overseas and that’s enough for them to get into the Melbourne Cup.

“It is becoming very one-sided and it is obvious they are pandering to the internationals.

“If they keep going like this, we will have to ‘spot the Aussie’ in the Cup.

“They should revert to what it used to be.

“The distances of some of the traditional lead-up races like the Brisbane Cup have been shortened and some of the qualifying conditions for the Melbourne Cup have been taken away.

“There should be more qualifying races for the Australian horses. If you won the Moonee Valley Cup, it used to get you into the Melbourne Cup.”

And as for the horses the virtuoso has tipped as the ones to beat this year? The French could have it in the bag for the third straight year.

“Americain is as good a sort as you will see anywhere,” he said.

“He’s a big, strong thing, I’d say whatever beats him will win.

“Dunaden’s pretty good, too, even with 59kg. He’s well in at the weights, I reckon, because in the old days he would have more than 60kg.”

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