The 2014 Australian Cup (2000m) will feature as one of two major Group 1 events alongside the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington on Saturday, and has been confirmed to feature a talented field of nine runners.
Having returned to the track in scintillating formm with an incredible turn of foot to win the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m), 2013 Melbourne Cup Champion Fiorente is outright favourite to continue his impressive run of for in the 2014 Australian Cup at a quote of $2.20, ahead of Shamus Award ($4), Thunder Fantasy ($8.50) and undoubted market mover Foreteller, who has been heavily back from an opening price of $14 to current register at $9.50.
Can Fiorente deliver another Group 1 title to Gai, or will Shamus Award lead from start to finish again and hit the line first?
Fiorente steadily built to the task over the 2013 spring, claiming the Group 2 Dato’Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) and placing third behind Shamus Award and Happy Trails in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) before displaying his keen ability to sprint hard and fast late, winning the Melbourne Cup (3200m) by nearly a length. Having returned to the track in 2014 in peak condition, Fiorente will have to overcome the slightly awkward barrier 8 if he is to continue his winning streak and deliver jockey Damien Oliver a maiden Australian Cup crown.
Thunder Fantasy ($8.50)
In-form colt Thunder Fantasy has experienced something of a meteoric rise to prominence since debuting on course in April 13th, finishing a competitive third behind Polanski and Complacent in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) to close a strong spring preparation and returning to the track on February 8th to win the Group 2 Autumn Stakes (1400m) ahead of a talented field. Having produced another good run for third in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) last weekend, Thunder Fantasy will likely receive the run of the field in the Australian Cup, having drawn the ideal barrier 3.
Danny O’Brien-trained star Shamus Award led from start to finish last weekend to secure a rare Cox Plate/Australian Guineas Double in particularly impressive fashion. Having claimed two wins and eight places from 12 starts to date, O’Brien has outlined the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) as the main target for the talented Snitzel colt this preparation, and could not pass up an attempt at a second Group 1 in as many weeks, particularly after drawing barrier 4.
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