On Tuesday Sydney’s premier horseman Chris Waller will saddle-up three 2014 Melbourne Cup hopes as he looks to win the classic for the first time including Opinion whose connections are thrilled to have the form trainer of the carnival.
Part-owner of Oasis Dream six-year-old Opinion, Alex Smith from Highclere Thoroughbreds on Saturday described Kiwi expat Waller as being on fire after he won two Group 1s on Victoria Derby Day at Flemington.
“Chris is on fire at the moment,” he said.
“He’s handled the horse really well, we’ve been really impressed.
“We’ve been up to speed all the way.”
Waller is yet to prepare a Melbourne Cup winner but is represented by his best contingent yet in the $6.2 million, two-mile handicap classic this year.
The best fancied of the Waller-trained Melbourne Cup horses are The Metropolitan winner Junoob ($26) coming off a Caulfield Cup seventh and Auckland Cup champ over the distance Who Shot Thebarman ($26) whose Caulfield Cup 13th left room for improvement.
The longer priced stable mate is then Opinion drawn in barrier 14 for Tye Angland who has been in devastating form of late like the trainer he’ll be out to win the ‘Loving Trophy’ for in 2014.
Barrier14 last produced a Melbourne Cup winner when Makybe Diva (2005) claimed her third with Glen Boss, who partners with Who Shot Thebarman this year, and it looks a decent gate for Opinion to jump from.
A winner of five of his 25 starts to date, the galloper was a close second with Angland aboard two back when a half-length off stable mate Junoob in Sydney’s Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick on October 4.
That day he was blocked for a run near the turn and looked the winner before dying on the straight following a jump from the same barrier he’s drawn for the Melbourne Cup.
Then last time out Zac Purton, partnering Tuesday’s $5 favourite and last start Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti in the Melbourne Cup, had the reins when Opinion was sixth in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Cup (2500m).
The horse looked a little flat over the concluding stages of the Cox Plate Day run giving some concern for how he’ll go stepping up to the two miles.
It’s a distance he’s been competitive over before however when second behind one-time favourite and since withdrawn The Offer in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) run on a soft Randwick track on April 19.
In an interesting form note, Opinion also drew barrier 14 in the Sydney Cup, and Smith is confident that over the two miles at Flemington the horse will be right in the finish again.
“No doubt he’ll get the trip,” Smith said.
“The Moonee Valley track didn’t suit him last time.
“Flemington will be right up his streak.
“He’s been second in two Group 1s now so he’s there with a chance.”
The Offer is also well-weighted with 53.5kg, 1.5kg less than his MV Cup weight, which originally Smith thought might not be enough to make the 24 starter Melbourne Cup field.
“We were a little worried whether we’d get in,” he said.
“But he’s got in off a good weight and very happy to have Tye riding.
“I don’t think he (Opinion) will (let us down). He’s in great form.”
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