Japanese horseman Tomoyuki Umeda may be about to saddle-up the favourite in the Melbourne Cup 2014 field next Tuesday but he’s got an eye out for the local mare Lucia Valentina who he rates as the main danger to Admire Rakti.
Heart’s Cry stallion Admire Rakti is the current $4.80 top fancy to become this year’s Melbourne Cup winner with the seven-year-old dominating the Ladbrokes.com.au markets on the $6.2 million Group 1 two-mile showdown following a win on debut down under.
On October 18 he won the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) carrying the 58kg top weight, for which he received a half-kilo penalty for the ‘race that stops a nation’.
Number one on the Melbourne Cup ballot, Admire Rakti will now look to carry 58.5kg to victory in the world’s richest handicap which will be the most weight carried to victory in over 30 years.
Before his Caulfield Cup triumph the galloper hadn’t won a race since February last year when taking out Tokyo’s Group 3 Diamond Stakes over 3419m.
Since then his only other start over a similar distance was in the Group 1 Tenno Sho (Spring) at Kyoto in May where he finished a well-beaten 13th in a disappointing effort over the two miles.
Still, a second behind one of the best stayers Gold Ship in the Group 2 Daishoten Stakes (3016m) before that in March had Racing Victoria chief handicapper Greg Carpenter wary and that suspension proved right on Caulfield Cup Day.
Despite the big weight the punters are rallying behind Admire Rakti to become the first Caulfield Cup – Melbourne Cup double winner since Ethereal (2001).
The Japanese raider has been working well since his big Group 1 triumph on Aussie soil.
But while Umeda is confident in his horse’s ability, he is going by the order of the Melbourne Cup odds and rates the $7 second pick Lucia Valentina as the one to beat.
Kris Lees’ daughter of Savabeel is out to become the first Melbourne Cup winning mare since the mighty Makybe Diva for her third in 2005 and has been tracking ideally towards the first Tuesday in November.
Two back she won the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington, her first run at the track, before she came home strong out wide in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) when third behind Admire Rakti.
She was the narrowly beaten favourite in the opening leg of the Spring Cups’ double and now Umeda knows his horse will need to be on his toes to hold her off in the finish again.
“The competition is strong, but she is the one we have to beat,” he told TVN this morning after putting Admire Rakti through his last fast gallop before Cup Day at Werribee.
“We hope the punters are right (backing Admire Rakti).”
In the Caulfield Cup Lucia Valentina carried 53kg, the same weight she has on Tuesday, and that weight advantage could be what gets her over the line should she draw a gate when the Melbourne Cup barriers are allocated on Saturday afternoon.
That said the step up in distance isn’t one the mare is proven over while Umeda is confident the two miles and the long Flemington straight will suit his top fancy.
Whether you’re backing or sacking the Melbourne Cup favourite this year you’ll find all the best odds on Racing Victoria’s carnival showcase race online at Ladbrokes.com.au – home of the $3 million Megapick this Victoria Derby Day!