David Hayes is forgetting about the Caulfield Cup for the moment with his first-up stakes winner Stipulate and instead is focusing on the 2014 Cox Plate at weight-for-age level with the progressive import.
On Wednesday Racing Victoria’s chief handicapper Greg Carpenter announced the weights for this year’s $3 million Group 1 Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup (2400m).
Handicaps for the October 18 classic are led by William Haggas’ European raider Mukhadram (58kg), one of a record 44 international entries for the handicap clash in 2014.
Hayes and co-trainer Tom Dabernig meanwhile have eight Caulfield Cup nominees this year including Stipulate.
The Dansili gelding caught the eye last Saturday at Caulfield Racecourse scoring a very nice win first-up in the Listed Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock Stakes (1700m).
Ridden by Dwayne Dunn the five-year-old found a lovely spot one off the fence and worked his way into the race without pressure, winding up when needed and powering away down the straight to beat home Peter Moody’s former Queensland Derby winner Brambles by nearly two lengths.
That was the British import’s fifth run down under and his maiden win, his career on Aussie soil kicking off last November during the Melbourne Cup Carnival when a disappointing 12th behind Boban in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m).
This Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival Hayes has Stipulate nominated for all the majors including the Caulfield Cup and $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on the first Tuesday of November.
After the galloper received only 52kg in the Caulfield Cup handicaps this week however Hayes has turned the focus to Australasia’s weight-for-age championship with the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) to run a week after the Caulfield Cup at Moonee Valley Racecourse.
Carpenter spoke about this year’s Caulfield Cup weights yesterday and said that horses really needed to be sitting on 53 – 53.5kg to ensure a start in the race.
That leaves Stipulate well down the order of entry and likely needing to win one of the ballot exempt races.
Instead of focusing too much on that tough task then Hayes will prepare Stipulate for a WFA Cox Plate run racing in the traditional lead-ups to that including the $400,000 Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 20 and the $500,000 Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 4.
“We might just treat him as a weight-for-age horse and race in the weight-for-age races and forget about the Caulfield Cup for now,” Hayes told Racing Victoria.
“He’s not a proven mile-and-a-half (2400m) horse so we might look at going to the Underwood and then the Turnbull and maybe even the Cox Plate.
“We’re not ruling out the Caulfield Cup but I’m thinking he’s more suited as a weight-for-age horse.”
There’s also a chance Stipulate could run in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) instead of the Underwood later this month which offers a ballot free ride into the Caulfield Cup to the winner.
“I really like the 1800m for him at this stage of his preparation,” Hayes said, leading towards the Group 1.
“With the form he’s currently in I think he’ll be pretty hard to beat in the Underwood.”
Stipulate is still being kept safe in Caulfield Cup betting by Ladbrokes.com.au at $26 but is a $101 roughie in the futures Cox Plate odds.
Hayes and Dabernig’s other current Caulfield Cup entries are then Spillway (52kg), Crackerjack King (51.5kg), Goldoni (50kg), Jacquinot Bay (50kg), Rawnaq (50kg), Unchain My Heart (50kg) and Wrotham Heath (50kg).
The shortest priced of these to win through Ladbrokes.com.au is fellow British import Spillway.
The five-year-old Rail Link stallion won the Group 3 JRA Plate (2000m) at Randwick in April before a first-up second to Star Rolling in the Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield in mid-August.
Crackerjack King meanwhile is at $81 to win the Caulfield Cup and $51 in Cox Plate betting, the Shamardal seven-year-old racing this weekend in the $250,000 Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m).
He’s at $61 to win however as the roughie of the field after a failed first-up run when dead last behind Tiger Tees beaten over 13 lengths in the Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) at Flemington last month.
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