It is shaping-up as a huge year for Benjamin...
He’s the ‘Cups King’ boasting a record 12 Melbourne Cup winners since 1965 but can the master Bart Cummings make it a baker’s dozen with his sole shot Precedence next Tuesday?
Of the 38 stayers still officially entered for the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) just one comes from the stables of the record holding trainer who now trains in partnership with his grandson James Cummings.
Precedence will carry 54.5kg in this year’s Melbourne Cup field, the veteran nine-year-old racing in the ‘race that stops a nation’ for the ninth time.
Owned by Dato Tan Chin Nam of Think Big Stud, Precedence is a son of Zabeel and so is a born stayer.
He’s had three previous attempts in the ‘race that stops a nation’ but is yet to finish in the money.
In 2010 he ran eighth to the French-trained Americain, was then 11th to another horse from France when beaten seven lengths by Dunaden the following year before a ninth to the Robert Hickmott-trained Green Moon two years ago who is back for a third shot in 2014.
“It is an achievement to have a runner, and this is the fourth time he has been in it,” Cummings told The Newcastle Herald.
“He is nine-year-old but it would be great if I could win it again.”
Balloted out of last year’s Cup field, Precedence is back for likely one last go but won’t be donning his traditional back-and-white chessboard with yellow sleeves silks.
Instead the 62-start veteran will be seen with dark green with light green spots honouring fellow part-owner, New Zealand’s Sir Patrick Hogan of Cambridge Stud fame.
“We are old friends in racing and he should have his turn with his colours,” Chin Nam said last week.
“He has to have his turn and we hope it is a winning move.”
Hogan also hopes it is a winning move, thrilled to be there with a horse in his colours in Australia’s premier race.
“I have never had my colours go around in a Melbourne Cup and it is a great gesture by Dato to let this happen,” he said.
“I was hoping to keep it as a surprise for my family, but I guess the colours have to change for the book.
“It will be exciting for me. We have had many Melbourne Cup runners come from the farm, but to have one race in my colours is a highlight of my career.
“For him to be a son of Zabeel trained by the master in Bart and co-owned with Dato is wonderful. I couldn’t think of anyone I would rather win the Cup with than these men.
“I know he is getting on a bit but we know he can stay.”
Jockey Michael Rodd, who won the world’s richest handicap with Efficient back in 2007, has secured the ride on Precedence in the famous Flemington Race 7 next Tuesday.
Rodd partners the horse for the first time since a disappointing 10th in the 2012 JRA Cup.
For his past two runs this season Precedence has had Glen Boss in the saddle, Boss jumping off to partner with Chris Waller’s The Bart Cummings winner Who Shot Thebarman who is a proven two-miler with a previous Auckland Cup win over the distance back in New Zealand.
The futures Melbourne Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au, pre-Victoria Derby Day field announcement, are led by Japanese-trained Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti ($4.80).
Precedence meanwhile is much further down the markets at $67 to join Cummings other Melbourne Cup winner: Light Fingers (1965), Galilee (1966), Red Handed (1967), Think Big (1974-75), Gold And Black (1977), Hyperno (19759), Kingston Rule (1990), Let’s Elope (1991), Saintly (1996), Rogan Josh (1999) and Viewed (2008).
He was last seen running fifth to Prince Of Penzance in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Cup (2500m) last weekend when forced to make his run a long way out, Cummings hoping for a bit better luck next start with Precedence after his first win since a consolation victory in the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) on Emirates Stakes Day 12 months ago.
“He has been in good form,” he said.
“He stays and if he is close enough with two [furlongs] to go, it will come down to if he has the zip in his legs.”
If you think Precedence is worthy of a sneaky each-way wager for the Cummings’ factor then head to Ladbrokes.com.au where you’ll find all the best Melbourne Cup betting odds and options leading-up to and on Melbourne Cup Day 2014!
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