Just nine runners have been confirmed to line up for the 2014 Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington Racecourse, set to be highlighted by a showdown betting Cox Plate/Australian Guineas Champion Shamus Award and Melbourne Cup Champion Fiorente.
Having produced a memorable run for victory in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) on October 26th, Shamus Award returned to the track with resounding favouritism for the Group 1 C.F Orr Stakes (1400m) on February 8th, but was unable to maintain an early straight sprint, finishing third behind Moment Of Change and a fast-finishing Eurozone.
Employing a similar tactic to that which produced Cox Plate glory, the talented Snitzel colt took up the pace early in last weekend’s Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m), dictated terms throughout and produced a strong final straight sprint to finish a length in the clear of Criterion and Thunder Fantasy.
With one eye on a Cox Plate defence in October, trainer Danny O’Brien has outlined the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) as the major target for Shamus Award this preparation, who will be particularly hard to beat in the Australian Cup after drawing the ideal barrier 4.
Having slowly built to the task over the spring on 2013, Fiorente (barrier 8) locked in an exhilarating sprint up the famous Flemington straight with journeyman Red Cadeaux, before pulling clear to deliver trainer Gai Waterhouse her first Melbourne Cup crown on the first Tuesday of November.
Appearing to be down-and-out in the final straight of the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) first-up at Caulfield on February 22nd, the talented Monsun entire exploded from the pack to comfortably stroll home ahead of fellow Australian Cup acceptors Mourayan (barrier 2) and Star Rolling (barrier 7).
With a rare Melbourne Cup defence shaping as a very realistic goal this year, Fiorente will first engage in what is likely to be a busy autumn campaign with nominations already lodged for appearances in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) and Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m).
Fellow Melbourne Cup Champion Green Moon has also accepted for the 2014 Australian Cup and will be aiming to secure a first competitive win since claiming the race that stops a nation in 2012.
Having fallen off the pace in the dying stages to finishing fourth in the Peter Young Stakes first-up, trainer Robert Hickmott is confident of a successful run for the well-trialled Montjeu entire this weekend, despite drawing the wide barrier 9.
Irish Import Voleuse De Coeurs (barrier 1) has been confirmed to make just his second Australian appearance and first-up for 2014 in the Australian Cup, having finished a disappointing tenth in the 2013 Melbourne Cup on debut.
Opening his career under the care of leading Irish trainer Dermot Weld, Voleuse De Coers managed an impressive five wins from 13 starts on the British and Irish racing circuit, including the Group 1 Irish St. Leger (2816m) just prior to his move down under.
In-form runner Thunder Fantasy (barrier 3), Let’s Make Adeal (barrier 6) and Chris Waller-trained Foreteller (barrier 5) complete the final field for the 2014 Australian Cup.Ladbrokes is currently offering the best odds for the 2014 Australian Cup!
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2014 Australian Cup Final Field
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp Rating|
|1||x3x61431x1||FIORENTE (IRE)||Gai Waterhouse||Damien Oliver||8||59kg||118|
|2||x44x5990x4||GREEN MOON (IRE)||Robert Hickmott||Chad Schofield||9||59kg||115|
|3||841x7870x2||MOURAYAN (IRE)||Robert Hickmott||Steven Arnold||2||59kg||108|
|4||x810240x45||FORETELLER (GB)||Chris Waller||Craig Newitt||5||59kg||112|
|5||11x015x523||STAR ROLLING||Peter Morgan & Craig Widdison||Brad Rawiller||7||59kg||94|
|6||x1x213210x||VOLEUSE DE COEURS (IRE)||Michael Moroney||Glen Boss||1||57kg||111|
|7||2x142423x8||LET’S MAKE ADEAL||Nigel Blackiston||Michael Rodd||6||57kg||103|
|8||2x27231x31||SHAMUS AWARD||Danny O’Brien||Craig Williams||4||54.5kg||115|
|9||6x11593x13||THUNDER FANTASY||Anthony Cummings||Mark Zahra||3||54.5kg||78|