Local galloper Zahspeed remains the solid...
Irish raider Johannes Vermeer is the new Caulfield Cup 2017 betting favourite following the withdrawal of the injured Admire Deus from the mile and a half classic on Saturday.
Australian Bloodstock import Admire Deus, prepared by Darren Weir, suffered injury breaking down in a Warrnambool track gallop on Tuesday morning and won’t be seen racing down under this spring.
The Japanese stayer was one of the favourites in pre-field betting at Ladbrokes.com.au on the Group 1 $3 million BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m), updated odds for which are now led by Galileo stallion Johannes Vermeer.
O’Brien has enjoyed previous Cox Plate success with Adelaide (2014), but is after his maiden in in the Caulfield Cup this weekend with the in-form Johannes Vermeer, to be ridden by Ben Melham.
The five-year-old raced in Australia for the first time last Saturday, finishing a close second just a neck off the upset Weir-trained winner Gailo Chop in the Group 1 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m).
A $21 shot in that race, Johannes Vermeer is now much shorter to handle the rise in distance for the Caulfield Cup where he will get in on just 54.5kg out to be the first international winner since the ill-fated Admire Rakti (2014).
O’Brien’s travelling foreman T.J. Comerford spoke to Racing Victoria on Monday and said Johannes Vermeer has pulled through his Caulfield Stakes second in excellent order and it was all systems go for the big one.
“He ran very well, we thought as much, he was absolutely flying since he got here, I think since he got here his work has come on again,” Comerford said.
“Johannes Vermeer is going to run this weekend again, because he is very well and in fairness, the jockey never knocked him about, he came out of the race so well, it was actually like a piece of work for him.”
Johannes Vermeer also targets the Group 1 $6.2 million Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 7 occupying the second line of futures betting on the ‘race that stops a nation’ at $9 following only the defending champion Almandin ($6.50).
Comerford said a final track gallop at Werribee on Wednesday morning was in store for Johannes Vermeer to bring him on for the Caulfield Cup test.
“I don’t think we need to do a whole lot with him, but what we will think about going on the grass on Wednesday, just putting him back to his normal routine,” he said.
“It does come a bit quick so we just have to change things around a little, but not a whole lot, the horse is fit and well, he is fresh, he actually looks very well.
“[Backing up] would only be a problem if they don’t come out of his races well, he always seems to come out of his races well, he hasn’t been knocked about at all really, he had a lovely race, he came back, ate up at night and that is where we are now, I’m 100 per cent happy with him.”
The other best fancied for the Caulfield Cup are the Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman-trained Kiwi mare Bonneval ($6) out to atone for her sixth as the beaten Ladbrokes Stakes favourite and last start Turnbull Stakes third placegetter Humidor for Weir.
Final Caulfield Cup 2017 acceptances close at 10am (AEDT) today followed by the official barrier draw at 5pm, making now the time to back your early favourites at the right price through Ladbrokes.com.au.
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