The Team Snowden trained Calanda will carry the...
He is one of the roughie hopes out of trainer Darren Weir’s 17 Melbourne Cup 2017 nominees but connections are happy to keep the pipe dream alive for now with improving four-year-old Night’s Watch who won at Sandown on Wednesday.
Weir celebrated success in the ‘race that stops a nation’ two years ago when his triple-figure outsider Prince Of Penzance stole the show in the 2015 Melbourne Cup.
The master Victorian horseman is back with a host of stayers in the mix for this season’s Group 1 $6.2 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) to run at Flemington on Tuesday November 7.
The lowest-rated of the Australian-trained Melbourne Cup nominations having had just six career starts to date is the Weir-trained Night’s Watch (66) raced by OTI Racing.
The Redwood gelding began his career in New Zealand before coming across the Tasman to join Weir this autumn.
In Australia the galloper has had two starts for two wins at Bendigo (1300m) and Sandown-Hillside (1400m) respectively.
The Sandown win in a Benchmark 70 came on Wednesday with Night’s Watch carrying 58kg to victory with Mark Zahra in the saddle of the odds-on favourite.
It was enough for part-owner Shane Driscoll from OTI to confirm the galloper was still on the ambitious Melbourne Cup path this spring.
“He was a sneaky nom for the Melbourne Cup, which might be a touch ambitious, but he’s going to give his owners a good ride and we’ll see how far he can get,” Driscoll told Racing Victoria.
“I don’t think it’s completely unrealistic that he strings together a picket fence and races through his grades.”
Currently the all-in Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have Night’s Watch listed as a $101 shot with markets led by the Lloyd Williams-owned reigning champion Almandin ($15) and Japanese recruit Admire Deus ($15).
Seven-year-old Admire Deus is now also prepared in Victoria for Weir, the veteran stayer yet to race down under or place in any of his three previous two-mile assignments back in Japan.
Weir has a dominance numbers-wise for the Melbourne Cup, but knows that only a handful of his runners will make the line-up in the 24-starter field.
“To date, all our horses are in really good shape,” the Ballarat horseman said.
“But, obviously, in the weeks to come now you start winding them up a little bit more each week and I guess at some stage – you hope it doesn’t – but at some stage something’s going to go wrong probably.
“You just hope they make it to the races fit and well with the right among of work into their legs, so that gives them their chance to run well.”
The internationals then dominate the other top positions in futures Melbourne Cup betting with Japanese raider Albert ($17), the Charlie Appleby-trained Francis Of Assisi ($17) who won Melbourne’s Bendigo Cup – Queen Elizabeth Stakes double last spring and German galloper Red Cardinal ($17) prepared by 2014 Melbourne Cup winning trainer Andreas Wohler the next best fancied.
To check out the latest Melbourne Cup 2017 betting markets and online odds head to Ladbrokes.com.au today.
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