Trainer John O’Shea knows the key to whether Godolphin-owned three-year-old Kumaon can score an upset 2014 Caulfield Guineas result will come down to his jump from the barriers this weekend.
There are 14 hopefuls in the mix for Saturday’s $1 million Group 1 BECK Caulfield Guineas (1600m) including Kumaon who has drawn a favourable inside barrier two draw for the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival classic.
A three-time Group 1 performer, the Lonhro colt currently pays a juicy $21 through Ladbrokes.com.au to beat home a field full of livewire chances in the weekend’s feature race.
While on paper the barrier is favourable, how Kumaon gets away from the gate and whether he can jump evenly with the field will determine whether he’s up there in the finish.
“He’s got to jump, it’s as simple as that,” O’Shea told Racing Network on Friday.
“That’s the key to his chances – he’s got to jump.”
Missing the start is a bad habit Kumaon is becoming known for at the stable and one O’Shea hopes he can shrug off in time to score his first Group 1 win and notably add to his value at stud.
“He’s been missing the start – you can’t do that in a race like this,” he said.
Clear favourite in Caulfield Guineas betting at $2.30 is the Ken Keys-trained speedster Rich Enuff up over the mile for the first time following some brilliant form this time in including a big win in the Group 3 Prelude over 1400m.
He shouldn’t have won that by the margin he did either after jumping from the outside barrier but put them away by over two lengths and will be looking to go all the way here.
Also well fancied in the Caulfield Guineas odds are the likes of the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Shooting To Win ($6.50) who also has good speed but sees Caulfield for the first time and Tony Gollan’s Prelude runner-up Looks Like The Cat.
Kumaon meanwhile was last seen running third behind the last of Saturday’s single figure hopes, the Gai Waterhouse-trained Almalad ($8) in the Group 2 Stutt Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 26.
That was his second look at a mile and second third place finish over the distance at elite level following his effort when beaten only a length by the now 2014 Cox Plate-bound filly Go Indy Go in the Champagne Stakes at Randwick back in April.
Kumaon also sees the Caulfield track for the first time on Saturday and O’Shea is hoping he handles it as well as he did the valley with jockey Kerrin McEvoy retaining the ride.
It’s a very strong edition of the Caulfield Guineas this year according to O’Shea who didn’t rate the talent last year, adding to his concerns about Kumaon’s chances.
“With all respect I think last year’s Guineas was moderate,” he said.
“The first five or so chances in this year’s race would probably have won last year’s Guineas.”
While Kumaon hasn’t won since a debut at Rosehill in a two-year-olds’ race last season, he’s been very competitive and from the inside draw could run a cheeky race at a nice price.
“If you look at his form you’ll see it’s very strong,” O’Shea pointed out.
“He had little luck behind Almalad last time and if you think Chivalry (sixth) and Zebulon (ninth) were unlucky than so was he.”
The Mark Kavanagh-trained Chivalry meanwhile pays $14 to win on Saturday while Zebulon with the inside alley is a $19 chance for Peter Morgan & Craig Widdison.
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