The likely withdrawal of Set Square from the 2015 Melbourne Cup line-up paves the way for Robert Hickmott’s Herbert Power Stakes winning import Amralah to make the starting 24 for the ‘race that stops a nation’.
News late this week surrounds the probable withdrawal of Ciaron Maher’s Reset mare Set Square from $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) calculations for Flemington Race 7 on Tuesday November 3 after her 16th in the Caulfield Cup last weekend.
Currently the four-year-old, winner of last year’s Crown Oaks during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, sits 19th on the Melbourne Cup order of entry.
If she comes out of the mix, the Lloyd Williams-owned Amralah (25th) looks a big chance of making the field for the world’s richest handicap.
The Teofilo six-year-old has won two of his three starts this time in and looks a progressive type after a runaway three length victory over Excess Knowledge in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield on October 10.
It was an especially impressive performance as he missed the kick and shouldn’t have won with the ease that he did with Hugh Bowman in the saddle.
Amralah was penalised two kilograms by Racing Victoria’s Chief Handicapper Greg Carpenter for his Herbert Power success taking him up to 53.5kg in the Melbourne Cup weights, an exact weight not carried to victory since Empire Rose (1988).
Hickmott won the Melbourne Cup only three years ago with 20/1 shot Green Moon (2012) and Williams believes Amralah is a winning hope this spring after his last start performance in a race that 2014 Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist ran fourth in leading up to his triumph as a then German-trained raider.
Williams said the horse had only improved since the run a fortnight back and continues to surprise the stable.
“He’s on target, it’s a tough race where he’s heading to, he’s going straight into the Melbourne Cup,” he told Racing Ahead on RSN.
“I’m pleasantly surprised the way he’s going. I’ve always thought he was a good horse.
“We got him out here last year and he hurt himself in the Mackinnon. We gave him the autumn off, and he came back and hasn’t done much wrong.
“He missed the start in the Turnbull [when only 1.8 lengths away seventh], missed the start in the Herbert Power, but picked himself up with 58.5kg and won pretty decisively.
“If he gets a good run in the Melbourne Cup, he’s going to run well.
“He’s in very good order at the moment.”
Fame Game from Japan leads the all-in Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au, who are offering Best Tote or SP + 20% on the Group 1 spring majors this season, after his good sixth in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) last weekend with the two miles to suit even more.
Amralah is also in the top half of futures Melbourne Cup betting at a current quote of $15.
Another Williams-owned horse on the edge of a spot inside the Top 24 in the Melbourne Cup ballot is Kingfisher prepared in Ireland by last year’s Cox Plate winning trainer Aidan O’Brien.
Currently 26th in the order of entry, the raider is yet to run down under but has shown good potential over his latest campaign including the second to Ed Dunlop’s subsequent Caulfield Cup runner-up Trip To Paris in the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup (4023m) in June.
Trip To Paris is the $7.50 second pick in Melbourne Cup betting while Kingfisher is further down the markets at $21.
“He’s a good stayer. Aidan likes him. Trip To Paris makes the form look alright,” Williams said of Kingfisher.
“Trip To Paris beat Kingfisher in the Gold Cup. It wasn’t one of Ryan Moore‘s great rides in the Gold Cup, and Kingfisher was pretty unlucky – probably should have won.
“I’ve bought a couple of Gold Cup horses in the past 20 years, and haven’t had much luck – but they weren’t trained by Aidan O’Brien.”
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