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Admire Rakti proved he could win the 2014 Caulfield Cup at a top weight of 58kg, now the Japanese superstar stayer will have to do it again after receiving a 0.5kg weight penalty for the Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) next month.
The penalty means Admire Rakti will carry 58.5kg in the $6.2 million race, a weight not won with since Think Big in 1975.
Since then 19 horses have carried more than 58kg in the Melbourne Cup with Kingston Town (second in 1982 with 59kg) and Vintage Crop (third in 1995 with 59kg) the only two to have placed.
Racing Victoria chief handicapper Greg Carpenter made the tough decision based on his impressive victory in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on Saturday.
“Admire Rakti was enormously impressive [in the Caulfield Cup] making a long sustained run down the middle of the track and he was strong through the line at the end of 2400m suggesting that 3200m at Flemington would be to his liking,” Carpenter told TVN.
“I had to strike a balance between the terms on which those that finished behind him at Caulfield would meet him next start and the new wave of rivals that awaits him at Flemington.
“Internationals Red Cadeaux, Cavalryman, Willing Foe, Protectionist, Mutual Regard and Royal Diamond, and potentially Cox Plate runners like Fawkner and Silent Achiever, present a new challenge for Admire Rakti and this had to be considered when determining the penalty.
“I have penalised Admire Rakti 0.5kg for his win thus lifting the original topweight to 58.5kg in the Melbourne Cup. This is the lowest penalty given to the Caulfield Cup winner since Ming Dynasty escaped one in 1980, but this is tempered by the fact that since the Melbourne Cup went metric in 1972 only Think Big (58.5kg) in 1975 has carried more than 58kg to victory.”
Admire Rakti shot to $4.60 favourite in the 2014 Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au however the horse may not even run as owner Riichi Kondo suggested he would be pulled if penalised.
Carpenter said he would be disappointed if Admire Rakti didn’t run but it did not influence or pressure his decision.
“Given the authoritative nature of his win in the Caulfield Cup I thought a penalty was appropriate and he will carry 58.5kg,” Carpenter said.
“If the owner decides that they would rather not run in the race and go back and contest the Japan Cup I would be disappointed but I would respect that decision.
“They were probably a little bit surprised that they ended up with 58kg in both the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup but they still travelled down here, they took up the challenge and they won the Caulfield Cup in an immensely impressive style and I hope they take up the challenge of trying to win the Melbourne Cup, the greatest 3200m race in the world.
“At the end of the day, a horse’s welfare and its future racing path is determined by the owner and the trainer, not the handicapper.
“So whatever decision is made by the connections of Admire Rakti, I will be respectful of that. He is a world-class horse.”
Only time will tell if Kondo decides to pull Admire Rakti from the 2014 Melbourne Cup, but we here at races.com.au will report on any updates.
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