Kris Lees’ in-form and lightly-weighted mare Lucia Valentina is the likely favourite in the final Caulfield Cup 2014 field released by Racing Victoria this morning.
The first of the ‘Big Three’ majors of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, the $3 million Group 1 Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup (2400m) features a capacity final field of 18 hopefuls plus four emergencies facing off at Caulfield Racecourse this Saturday.
Head of the early Caulfield Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au, Savabeel four-year-old Lucia Valentina is looking to become the first female Caulfield Cup winner since Southern Speed (2011).
She’s won two of her three starts this campaign including the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 4.
That was her second Group 1 win over 2000m following her Vinery Stud Stakes success in Sydney as a three-year-old during the autumn.
She’s also Group 1 performed over the Caulfield Cup distance of 2400m when third behind Rising Romance in the ATC Oaks on April.
Last year’s Caulfield Cup winner Fawkner ran third in the Turnbull Stakes while the last horse to complete the Turnbull Stakes – Caulfield Cup double was Elvstroem (2004).
Lucia Valentina gets in on 53kg too, half a kilo less than her Turnbull Stakes winning weight, and will be ridden by Kerrin McEvoy.
Also coming via a top three run in the Turnbull Stakes this year are then runner-up Lidari for Peter Moody and stable mate Brambles who is the first emergency runner for Saturday’s feature showdown.
The Caulfield Cup field has an international flavor this year too with four internationally-trained final acceptors led by Japanese raider Bande (56.5kg) who French jockey Christophe Lemaire rides.
Yoshito Yahagi’s Authorzied stallion was third in the Hansh Daishoten over 3000m in March, form Racing Victoria’s Chief Handicapper Greg Carpenter rates highly, and was last seen leading all the way for a five length victory over 26000m in a black-type back home on August 10.
Also representing Japan in this year’s Caulfield Cup field is the 58kg top weight Admire Rakti for Tomoyuki Umeda, the Heart’s Cry seven-year-old last seen running 13th in the Group 1 Tenno Sho (3200m) in May, Zac Purton booked for the ride.
Before that he finished one better than Bande when runner-up to Gold Ship in the Hansh Daishoten and two before that thrived over 2400m last November when fourth to Gentildonna in the Group 1 Japan Cup.
Admire Rakti worked well this morning over 2000m finishing his final 400m in under 24 seconds showing he was ready for Saturday’s test.
Bande meanwhile is tipped to gallop tomorrow after going through some barrier practice at Werribee this morning.
The other two international representatives in the Caulfield Cup mix on the weekend are then the Marco Botti-trained duo Dandino and Seismos to be ridden by Craig Williams and Craig Newitt respectively.
Dansili stallion Dandino has form in this race from 12 months ago when making his Australian race debut finishing second to Fawkner in the Caulfield Cup before backing up for a brave fifth to Fiorente in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington.
Last year he came off two Group 2 seconds in the UK and a win in the American St. Leger.
This year however his lead-up race was a distant fourth in the Group 3 September Stakes (2414m) at Kempton Park on September 6 with 59.5kg, Dandino dropping to 57kg for his second shot at Caulfield Cup glory.
Stable mate Seismos meanwhile will carry 56kg on the weekend in the Dalakhani seven-year-old’s debut down under.
Last start he won an ideal international Spring Cups’ lead-up beating home a smart field in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes (2670m) at Newbury on August 16.
Along with the Caulfield Cup betting favourite Lucia Valentina, the other most notable mare in the mix is New Zealand visitor Rising Romance (53kg).
Donna Logan’s four-year-old daughter of Ekraar has Group 1 winning form down under already having defeated Zanbagh and Lucia Valentina in the ATC Oaks during the autumn.
This season she’s had three runs, her most recent being a Group 3 Craven Plate (2000m) second at Randwick behind Moriarty with Saturday to be her first run at Caulfield with James McDonald in the saddle.
Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller is also well represented in Saturday’s feature as he shoots for his first Caulfield Cup trophy with four chances.
Waller’s best two chances lie in last start Group 1 The Metropolitan winner over the distance in Sydney Junoob (55.5kg) and Group 1 Auckland Cup winner Who Shot Thebarman (55kg) coming off back-to-back Flemington wins including the Group 3 The Bart Cummings (2520m) on October 4.
The stable has also accepted for former Queensland Derby champ Hawkspur out to improve on a disappointing Turnbull Stakes 10th and last start Craven Plate winner Moriarty.
Other notable Caulfield Cup hopes include the Tony McEvoy-trained Big Memory who earned his spot with a win in last Saturday’s Herbert Power Stakes over the track and distance, Gai Waterhouse’s Melbourne Cup favourite The Offer and Dear Demi.
Big Memory is owned by the same connections that won the 1999 Caulfield Cup with Sky Heights, his Victorian owner Rupert Legh having had three subsequent chances in the race without success.
The most notable non-acceptor from the Caulfield Cup field meanwhile was UK mare My Ambivalent, assistant trainer David Eustace confirming she had failed to overcome a stone bruise suffered after track work on Saturday.
Other notable absentees from the line-up include Foreteller, Silent Achiever, Kirramosa, He’s Your Man, Sangster and Sertorius.
See below for the full 2014 Caulfield Cup field, weights and jockeys.
The official 2014 Caulfield Cup barrier draw will be conducted live from Club 23 at Crown from 5:30pm (local time) this afternoon.
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2014 Caulfield Cup Final Field
Caulfield Racecourse – 18/10/2014
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||0x4240x20x||ADMIRE RAKTI (JPN)||Tomoyuki Umeda||Zac Purton||0||58kg||113|
|2||21x25x6624||DANDINO (GB)||Marco Botti||Craig Williams||0||57kg||110|
|3||990x427x60||GREEN MOON (IRE)||Robert Hickmott||Chad Schofield||0||57kg||111|
|4||x00210x8x5||SEA MOON (GB)||Robert Hickmott||Steven Arnold||0||57kg||108|
|5||613x133x1x||BANDE (IRE)||Yoshito Yahagi||Christophe Lemaire||0||56.5kg||110|
|6||x63111x596||THE OFFER (IRE)||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||0||56.5kg||110|
|7||30x10x641x||SEISMOS (IRE)||Marco Botti||Craig Newitt||0||56kg||109|
|8||3440×75140||HAWKSPUR||Chris Waller||Damien Oliver||0||55.5kg||110|
|9||31143×8611||JUNOOB (GB)||Chris Waller||Douglas Whyte||0||55.5kg (inc. 1.5kg penalty)||110|
|10||55512×5561||MORIARTY (IRE)||Chris Waller||Michael Rodd||0||55kg||107|
|11||12119×0711||WHO SHOT THEBARMAN (NZ)||Chris Waller||Glen Boss||0||55kg (inc. 1.5kg penalty)||107|
|12||x3008x5217||DEAR DEMI||Clarry Conners||Jim Cassidy||0||54.5kg||109|
|13||x0x623x175||STIPULATE (GB)||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Dwayne Dunn||0||54kg||104|
|14||x7190x5442||LIDARI (FR)||Peter G Moody||TBA||0||53.5kg||105|
|15||2x3013x161||LUCIA VALENTINA (NZ)||Kris Lees||Kerrin McEvoy||0||53kg||110|
|16||312241×472||RISING ROMANCE (NZ)||Donna Logan||James McDonald||0||53kg||105|
|17||221210×281||BIG MEMORY (FR)||Tony McEvoy||Corey Brown||0||52kg||100|
|18||7x128x6710||GRIS CARO (GB)||Jake Stephens||Joao Moreira||0||52kg||101|
|19e||11×4088213||BRAMBLES (NZ)||Peter G Moody||TBA||0||53.5kg||105|
|20e||4x0313x763||ARALDO (GB)||Michael Moroney||TBA||0||53kg||100|
|21e||8241×83439||UNCHAIN MY HEART||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||TBA||0||52kg||98|
|22e||1x8x47x630||RENEW (IRE)||Marco Botti||TBA||0||52kg||89|