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Last year’s Cox Plate winning trainer Aidan O’Brien not only prepares favourite for the same race this weekend in Highland Reel, but is also happy with the current condition of the Irish stable’s two Melbourne Cup 2015-bound raiders Bondi Beach and Kingfisher.
Twelve months ago O’Brien prepared Adelaide (2014), now trained by Chris Waller in Sydney, to beat home the favourite Fawkner in the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m).
The Irish horseman returns this Saturday to Moonee Valley Racecourse with Highland Reel to be ridden by last year’s Cox Plate winning hoop Ryan Moore who shoots for another victory aboard another son of Galileo.
Highland Reel is drawn a treat in barrier four in a capacity 14-starter Cox Plate field and leads the latest markets at Ladbrokes.com.au, who are offering Best Tote or SP + 20% across the card, at $5 for the win.
Aside from Highland Reel, O’Brien and his assistant trainer TJ Comerford are also looking further ahead with two hopefuls in the ‘race that stops a nation’ at Flemington Racecourse on the first Tuesday of November.
The $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 3 has a capacity 24-starter field and O’Brien’s two hopefuls Bondi Beach and Kingfisher sit seventh and 28th respectively in the latest ballot for the world’s richest handicap.
Comerford said Bondi Beach had, like Highland Reel, travelled to Australia in top condition while Kingfisher was returning to his best after a tougher start to his raid down under.
“Highland Reel and Bondi Beach travelled over exceptionally well,” he told Racing Victoria.
“Kingfisher had a rougher time of it, but he’s back good again. He had plenty of time to catch up for the Melbourne Cup.”
The next round of Melbourne Cup acceptances close next Monday, October 26, with 81 stayers still in the mix at this stage.
The ultra-consistent Bondi Beach is allocated just 52.5kg, the Galileo stallion having had just the five starts to date for two wins and three thirds.
Boasting a 100% place rate, he has winning form up to 2816m in Group 3 company back home and is also Group 1 placed having finished a very close second to Simple Verse last time out in the Group 1 Doncaster St Leger (29717m) carrying 57.5kg.
O’Brien has saddled-up five previous Melbourne Cup runners finishing third on one occasion, Bondi Beach a $17 hope in the all-in markets at Ladbrokes.com.au to win in 2015.
Melbourne Cup betting is led by Japan’s Fame Game ($4.60) who ran sixth in last Saturday’s Caulfield Cup, the winner of that lead-up Mongolian Khan and runner-up Trip To Paris now equal $7.50 second picks for the two mile classic.
Kingfisher meanwhile hasn’t won a race since a black-type back home in early June, but has raced well since including his second to the Ed Dunlop-trained Caulfield Cup runner-up Trip To Paris in the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup (4023m).
His last start was an eighth in the Iris St Leger in mid-September when carting a hefty 62kg, the stallion set to appreciate a drop right back to 53kg if he makes the Melbourne Cup field.
Kingfisher is at $21 to win the Melbourne Cup this season, and if successful will be the first to carry 53kg to victory since 40/ outsider Viewed (2008) who handed the late, great Bart Cummings with his 12th and final ‘Loving Trophy’.
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