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Andreas Wohler’s German visitor Protectionist is the shortest priced of the European raiders left in the Melbourne Cup 2014 betting markets for Flemington Race 7 at 3:00pm (AEDT) this afternoon in Victoria.
There were originally 11 international raiders in the capacity 24 horse Melbourne Cup field for this year’s $6.2 million two mile clash.
However two scratchings from the ‘Race That Stops a Nation’ has left 22 chances including 10 non-Australian or New Zealand trainer hopefuls.
Of those the best fancied is Admire Rakti from Japan, the last start Caulfield Cup winning seven-year-old at an easing $6 to go back-to-back for the Melbourne Cup betting favourites following the success of Fiorente 12 months ago.
As for the European hopes, which have won two of the past four editions of the race with the French-trained duo Americain (2010) and Dunaden (2011), the shortie at single figures is Monsun stallion Protectionist.
He debuted in Australia on October 11 at Caulfield in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) and was flying home when just under a length away fourth to Big Money over the mile and a half.
The form of that race stacked up on Victoria Derby Day on Saturday too with the Darren Weir-trained Herbert Power runner-up Signoff winning the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) in devastatingly style to earn a Melbourne Cup start.
Signoff is now an $8 chance from barrier 15 with ‘The Magic Man’ Joao Moreira retaining the ride, the same price for Protections at Ladbrokes.com.au to improve on that run when stepped up to the two miles for the first time this afternoon.
He’s won up to 3000m however having won the Group 2 Prix Kergorlay on August 24 back in France carrying 60kg.
That race produced both Americain and Dunaden in their respective Melbourne Cup winning years, and Protectionist is sure to appreciate carrying the 56.5kg today.
He’s drawn in 11 but will jump from 10 after the scratchings, the gate that produced Japan’s only Melbourne Cup winner to date Delta Blues back in 2006.
Ryan Moore rides the German replacing Craig Williams who is now without a mount in this year’s Melbourne Cup following the scratching of the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Cavalryman this morning with a leg injury.
Wohler is confident that Protectionist will be improving on his fast-finishing Herbert Power effort, good Melbourne Cup form historically speaking as no European since Vintage Crop (1993) has won the Melbourne Cup without a previous Australian start for the season.
“He needed the prep run and could not be in better form,” Wohler told the BBC this week.
Looking to prepare the first German Melbourne Cup winner in history, Wohler was also happy with the 56.5kg weight allocation, two kilos under the top weight and favourite Admire Rakti.
“I think he’s fairly handicapped and hopefully he will prove it,” he said.
As for the main danger it is the top fancy he feels most threatened by especially with the Tomoyuki Umeda-trained galloper coming up trumps with barrier eight.
“Was impressed by Admire Rakti in the Caulfield Cup and looks to be the main danger,” Wohler said.
Barrier eight was the same gate Admire Rakti jumped from to win the Caulfield Cup on October 18 and his trainer believes luck is on their side for today.
“It is a lucky number,” said Umeda.
“There is no change in the horse and he is just as good as he was before the last run. He has had the one gallop since, he is still good.”
Australian-trained horses then occupy the next three lines of Melbourne Cup betting with the Robert Hickmott-trained Fawkner ($7.50), Kris Lees’ four-year-old Savabeel mare Lucia Valentina ($7.50) and the aforementioned Signoff ($8).
Mutual Regard, who boasts an excellent 3200m record (5-2-2-0), from the Irish stables of former jockey Johnny Murtagh is then the next best fancied European, the market mover in from $13 to $10.
While not British-trained horse has won the Melbourne Cup, Ireland have two winners both trained by Dermot K Weld with Vintage Crop (1993) and Media Puzzle (2002).
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