The 2014 Melbourne Cup bids of a number of top international stayers will go on in the line in York this evening with a handful of chances for the world’s richest handicap running in the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup (3200m).
Held over the same distance as the iconic two-mile $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse on the first Tuesday of November, the Londsdale Cup features a final field of eight gallopers.
Among them is Cavalryman (barrier two), a Godolphin-owned veteran coming off back-to-back wins in July.
The eight-year-old Halling stallion won the Group 2 Princess Of Wales’s Stakes (2414m) first-up on July 10 at Newmarket before stepping up to 3218m at the end of the month to beat home Ahzeemah and Brown Panther in the Group 2 Goodwood Cup carrying 61kg.
Prepared by Saeed Bin Suroor, Cavalryman was down under two years ago for a shot at the ‘race that stops a nation’ running eight lengths away 12th to Green Moon.
While on paper that Melbourne Cup result was disappointing, he did run some of the fastest final 1000m sectional of any runner in the showdown.
Now a return trip down under is on the cards, this time the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 18 also being considered.
Cavalryman pays $26 in the current Caulfield Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au and is at the same quote to win the Melbourne Cup 2014.
Those are prices that are set to firm should he win the Lonsdale Cup overnight.
The Lonsdale Cup isn’t the only international feature taking place this weekend that could give punters an insight into the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival potential of some overseas gallopers, but it is the most notable.
Races in Ireland and France are also on the agenda and could serve as a nice guide for not only the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups but also the weight-for-age $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25.
“I think you’ll find there are up to 15 horses engaged in the three major races during the spring having important runs this weekend,” Racing Victoria’s international talent scout Leigh Jordon said.
“In fact a lot of questions about a lot of stayers will be answered when Friday night’s meeting at York especially is run and won.
“But things are really looking promising for those horses whose trainers have indicated they want to come to Australia seen to be racing well.
“I’ve said it many times but the Melbourne and Caulfield Cup is becoming so competitive and difficult to obtain a start in, so it follows the field is becoming stronger, quality-wise each year.”
Dual Melbourne Cup winning trainer Dermot Weld is another horseman saddling-up a chance for this year’s edition of the famous Flemington feature over the weekend.
He has a runner in tonight’s Lonsdale Cup with Pale Mimosa drawn in gate five with Irishman Pat Smullen engaged for the ride.
Kept safe by Ladbrokes.com.au in Melbourne Cup betting at a quote of $34, the Singspiel mare is also a last start winner having taken her record up to four wins from nine starts at Leopardstown on July 17 with a two length effort over Manalapan in the Listed Challenge Stakes (2816m).
She is up in class and distance then for the Lonsdale Cup where she goes up over the distance for the first time since a close fourth when beaten under two lengths by Royal Diamond in the Group 3 British Champions Long Distance Cup (3218m) at Ascot in October last year.
Her trainer Weld missed the Melbourne spring action last year but Jordon is hoping Pale Mimosa could be the horse to lure him back down under for a shot at a third ‘Loving Trophy’.
“Dermot wasn’t here last year but hopefully Pale Mimosa could be the horse that could bring one of the world’s finest trainers back to Australia,” Jordon said.
Also in Lonsdale Cup and Melbourne Cup contention is the Michael Halford-trained Irish galloper Certerach with the rails run in the British staying showdown.
Another son of Halling, this six-year-old is looking to atone for a last start sixth when suffering a luckless run behind Pale Mimosa in the Challenge Stakes.
The gelding does however having 3200m winning form in Dubawi back in March, form he will be out to return to here.
“The horse had been disappointing in one of his starts but Michael assures me that he’s right back on target and is confident he will perform well in the Lonsdale Cup,” Jordon said.
Certerach is another $34 chance for the Melbourne Cup win and pays $41 for the Caulfield Cup the month before over the mile and a half.
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