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A line-up of potential Melbourne Cup horses led by the defending champion in the ‘race that stops a nation’, Almandin, face off at Flemington Racecourse on Saturday in The Bart Cummings 2017 field.
A key support act on the Turnbull Stakes Day card that features the latest run from heroic mare Winx, this year’s Group 3 $300,000 The Bart Cummings (2500m) is set to jump at 4:30pm (AEDT) as Flemington Race 7.
The spring staying showdown has drawn a final field of 13 stayers vying for the ballot exemption on offer to the winner into the Group 1 $6 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on Tuesday November 7.
Leading the latest The Bart Cummings odds online at Ladbrokes.com.au as well as the futures Melbourne Cup betting markets is the Robert Hickmott-trained Almandin.
Last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival the consistent son of Monsun handed owner Lloyd Williams with a fifth Melbourne Cup victory after a lead-up win in The Bart Cummings.
This season the now eight-year-old will be out to repeat the same double and the bookies are taking no chances with the evergreen veteran.
Almandin put the writing on the wall for another big spring campaign winning the Listed JRA Trophy (2500m) at Flemington under 61kg by nearly three lengths on September 16.
He returns to the track and distance, which he is undefeated over, for a title defence in The Bart Cummings and comes back a kilo carrying the 60kg top weight.
That is a notable five kilos more than his winning weight in the same race 12 months ago, but his subsequent dominance in the staying races has him deserving of the hefty allocation.
Almandin jumps from barrier 12 on the weekend with Damien Oliver retaining the ride and pays $2.10 and firming in The Bart Cummings odds.
His current Melbourne Cup quote of $6.50 to secure successive editions of the two mile classic will also firm in from $6.50 should he salute on the weekend.
Three other long distance performers join Almandin under double-figures in early The Bart Cummings betting this spring including Harlem ($4) for Lindsay Park.
Jumping from the outside barrier with Dwayne Dunn to ride, the talented Champs Elysees stallion comes off a runaway three and a quarter length victory at Caulfield on September 23 in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m).
That victory has guarantee Harlem a start in the Group 1 $3 million Caulfield Cup (2400m) over the two miles on October 21 and he has his final lead-up into that via The Bart Cummings.
Harlem could also extend out to 3200m for the first time since his sixth in the autumn’s Sydney Cup in the 2017 Melbourne Cup field and pays $17 in the latest markets for the world’s richest handicap.
Rounding out the single-figure The Bart Cummings horses are Amelie’s Star ($6) and Crocodile Rock ($9) drawn alongside each other in barriers five and four respectively.
A $21 chance for the Melbourne Cup, Testa Rossa mare Amelie’s Star is prepared by Darren Weir and was last seen finishing fourth to Harlem in the Naturalism Stakes.
Crocodile Rock is the other Williams-owned runner in the mix along with the favourite, the ultra-consistent Galileo six-year-old the second best over the line behind Almandin in the JRA Trophy.
Of the gallopers chasing an upset the best roughie hopes include the rails-drawn Broadside ($16) and Godolphin stayer Tally ($21).
Broadside races for the fourth straight week on the trot, the recent Newcastle Gold Cup winner looking to improve on his fifth when three lengths beaten at Randwick last weekend in the Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m).
See below for the full The Bart Cummings 2017 field, barriers, jockeys, weights and latest Fixed Win odds provided by Ladbrokes.com.au.
2017 The Bart Cummings Field, Barriers & Odds
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