Rival trainer and the horseman behind triple Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux, Britain’s Ed Dunlop believes the Japanese-trained favourite Fame Game is all but unbeatable next Tuesday over the two miles even though he saddles-up second favourite in the markets Trip To Paris.
From four consecutive runs, which becomes five on November 3 at Flemington in the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m), Dunlop’s veteran stayer Red Cadeaux boasts three second place runs in the ‘race that stops a nation’.
He was next best over the line behind Protectionist last spring, and returns in 2015 as a $26 chance in the latest Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au – who have a Ford 4X4 Ranger plus a boat and bike up for grabs in their exclusive ‘Melbourne Cup Prize Draw’!
Much shorter in the all-in Melbourne Cup betting markets for Dunlop is the $8 second elect Trip To Paris who was second past the post behind Murray Baker’s star Kiwi Mongolian Khan on debut down under in the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 17.
With Mongolian Khan subsequently withdrawn from Melbourne Cup calculations this week due to a bout of colic, all the rage in the markets has been on Japan’s Caulfield Cup sixth placegetter Fame Game ($3.80).
Allocated 57kg for the world’s richest handicap, the same he had on his back in the Caulfield Cup, the Heart’s Cry stallion is set to relish the extra metres going up to the two miles with winning form back home up to 3400m and a second to champion stayer Gold Ship in the Group 1 Tenno Sho (3200m) from early May.
While Dunlop is happy with his Champs Elysees gelding Trip To Paris, who is a dour stayer who has won up to 4023m and was beaten only a half-length in the Caulfield Cup, he knows they face a tough task trying to stop Fame Game from joining Delta Blues (2006) as Melbourne Cup winners for Japan.
Trip To Paris carries 55kg in the Melbourne Cup, the exact weight the Gai Waterhouse-trained Fiorente (2013) carried to victory just two years ago, and is prepared by a trainer who is no stranger to Flemington Race 7 on the first Tuesday of November.
Dunlop though saw the Caulfield Cup final 200m sectional times and while Trip To Paris’s 11.62 was smart, Fame Game ran 11.69 and will only improve over the extra metres.
“Fame Game looks magnificently well, he’s a colt so he’s bound to look well,” Dunlop told Racing Victoria on Thursday.
“It was an eye-catching run [in the Caulfield Cup], we all read a lot into those type of runs.
“He’s a very short-priced favourite, but he’s beatable – and we’ll try and do that.”
The last Melbourne Cup favourite to salute for the punters was also Fiorente who broke a drought going back to the mighty Makybe Diva who jumped favourite for the last two of her three straight wins from 2003-05.
As for Red Cadeaux, the now 10-year-old in Australian racing terms goes first-up into the Melbouren Cup this year having last run third to Agent Murphy in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes (2872m) in mid-August.
For last year’s Melbourne cup bid he carried 57kg, but actually drops down to 55kg for his fifth straight run.
All Dunlop wants from his $8 million earner though is for him to come through the tough two mile run unscathed.
“This is his sixth trip to Australia, and that’s a testament to my staff, the owner and the horse,” Dunlop, 47, said referring to Red Cadeaux’s four previous Spring Carnivals plus a trip here in the autumn.
“We’re very lucky to have him, I know he hasn’t won – but I know the whole of Australia has taken him into their hearts, so I hope he doesn’t let them down.
“The more we think about, the more we talk about it, it’s nerve-wracking watching him nowadays. You want the horse to stay OK, that’s the most important thing.”
Now the horseman is just sweating on the Melbourne Cup barrier draw to take place from Flemington live after the Victoria Derby Day racing action on Saturday.
“He’s been around stranger tracks in England – so I’m not worried about Flemington,” he said of his top seed Trip To Paris.
“The draw will make a difference to all of us, so I hope he gets a good draw.”
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