Caulfield horseman Ciaron Maher has confirmed the Melbourne Cup 2015 over the two miles at Flemington on the first Tuesday of November as the long term spring goal for his Oaks winning mare Set Square who runs in Saturday’s Caulfield Cup.
Maher’s four-year-old daughter of Reset is one of the top-rated chances for this year’s $3 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) over the mile and a half, Set Square paying $10 in the latest odds at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Available at Best Tote or SP + 20% along with the entire Caulfield Cup field at Ladbrokes on Saturday, she is drawn wide in barrier 16 but could start from 12 if the four emergencies fail to gain a run.
Last start on October 4 saw her run a brave third when beaten only three quarters of a length in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m), a race that has produced four of the past six Caulfield Cup winners.
The last Turnbull Stakes graduate to back up with a win in the classic at Caulfield Racecourse was the Robert Hickmott-trained Fawkner (2013) who, like Set Square, ran third in the Flemington lead-up.
Lightly-raced having just her 11 start on Saturday, Set Square hasn’t had a run over exactly 2400m but last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival she won the Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) by one and a half lengths.
She has failed to win again since, something Maher is hoping she can do this weekend getting in on a light 51kg for the Caulfield Cup with Kerrin McEvoy aboard, her trainer unconcerned about her double-digit draw.
“The main thing is to get her relaxed and happy and comfortable in the first half of the race. If that sort of pans out, we can worry about the rest of it,” he told Racing Ahead on RSN.
“There looks to be a bit of speed on the outside, so there might be quite a few of them rolling across from the outside, and she should be somewhere just behind the leading bunch with a bit of cover.”
McEvoy won the 2008 Caulfield Cup on European raider All The Good who scored the upset at 40/1, while the last winner with 51kg was well back in 1988 with Imposera.
While Set Square ticks plenty of boxes for this weekend’s major, only needing a touch of luck from the gate to be in the finish, Maher said the bigger mission was on November 3 in the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).
She is currently 22nd on the Melbourne Cup ballot, the race boasting a capacity field of 24 starters, and is allocated the same 51kg handicap she has this weekend.
“I’d love to take her out to the two mile,” Maher said.
“This is going to be her fourth run in (on Saturday).
“Providing she runs well and pulls up well from it, I’d say she will definitely go on to the Flemington Carnival.”
Maher made the decision to bypass the ATC Oaks in Sydney during the autumn, won by fellow Caulfield Cup hopeful Gust Of Wind who pays $17 for the weekend with trainer John Sargent unconvinced Caulfield is the right track for her.
He believes that was a top call that has helped Set Square develop into a livewire Spring Cups hope this campaign.
“She had to furnish into a mare, it’s different when you’re taking on your own age and sex last year,” Maher said.
“She had to develop into that stronger horse.
“Her preparation in Sydney was cut short, she didn’t go to the Oaks, and I think that was probably the makings of her. It gave her an extra couple of weeks in the paddock and she really strengthened up.
“We sent her down to Warrnambool for her pre-training in the first six weeks of her [spring] campaign. She really enjoyed it down there and came back a lot stronger, happier horse.”
Futures Melbourne Cup betting is led by the Japanese-trained Tenno Sho runner-up Fame Game ($7) who is out to go back-to-back for Japan after the success of Admire Rakti last year in Saturday’s Caulfield Cup in his debut down under.
He is also a $10 fancy in the Caulfield Cup betting markets with last year’s winning jockey Zac Purton aboard from barrier one, which hasn’t produced a winner in over 30 years.
For the Melbourne Cup in the all-in odds Set Square is at a much juicier $34 where she’ll be looking to become the first mare to win since the mighty Makybe Diva (2003-05) who is still the only triple Melbourne Cup winner in history.
Before Makybe Diva the other latest Melbourne Cup winning mare was New Zealand’s Ethereal (2001) who completed the Caulfield Cup – Melbourne Cup double that spring.
To back Set Square in the Caulfield Cup at Best Tote or SP + 20% on Saturday and to access the best early Melbourne Cup odds, head to Ladbrokes.com.au today!