A top-class field of 16 middle-distance runners is set to run in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington Racecourse this Saturday, providing punters with a variety of betting options.
Betting markets for the race went live at Ladbrokes.com.au on Wednesday afternoon, with just three runners offering single figure odds, leaving the market fairly open at this stage.
Happy Trails is the current favourite at $4.80, seeing his price shorten from $5 already. The Paul Beshara-trained gelding is set to get a good jump from barrier four with Damien Oliver to ride, who is the reigning Australian Cup champion after riding Fiorente to victory last year.
The seven-year-old gelding is a Flemington specialist, winning all three of his past Group One victories at the track including the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) on November 1.
Happy Trails resumed in the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 14, finishing sixth behind Dissident, before enjoying the increase in distance for the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) two weeks later. The gelding finished just three-quarter of a length behind winner Mourinho in second place.
The gelding will enjoy the 200 metre increase in the 2015 Australian Cup and the return to Flemington, making him the favourite.
Kris Lees’ Protectionist will start one gate in from Happy Trails with Craig Williams in the saddle. The five-year-old horse resumed in the Peter Young Stakes on February 28 but he was never expected to excel over the short trip compared to the two miles he relished during the Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 4.
Protectionist finished midfield in sixth in his first-up run and Williams reported he didn’t enjoy the Caulfield track after the race so he is expected to run better on his return to Flemington.
The Peter Gelagotis-trained Mourinho has had a surprisingly successful campaign so far this autumn, winning the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) first-up at a starting price of $31 before finishing third in the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) on February 14 and returning to the winner’s circle in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m).
Although Mourinho has found recent success between 1200-1800m, the gelding is traditionally a middle-distance runner so should run on well in the Australian Cup. He has won four of his 11 total starts over 2000 metres and placed in a further three.
Mourinho will need to overcome a wide start from barrier 13 with Vlad Duric.
Spillway opened the betting as an $8 hopeful but has seen his price drift out to $10 already. The David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained horse will jump from barrier eight with Michael Walker.
The horse has won three of his seven starts over 2000 metres but has never won at Flemington and has had a recent string of luckless runs, finishing outside the placings in all five of his past starts.
Check out the live fixed-odds betting market for the 2015 Australian Cup below and make sure to place your bets at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Take advantage of the online bookies’ special offer and receive an additional 20% on top of your winnings by betting on the Best Tote or SP.