Local galloper Zahspeed remains the solid...
Brazilian hoop Joao Moreira has his work cut out for him this Saturday in Melbourne with his mount in the 2017 Caulfield Cup, William Mullins’ international raider Wicklow Brave, out to be the oldest winner of the race in history.
The Caulfield Cup has been run and won since 1879, but to date no nine-year-old has saluted in the opening leg of the coveted Spring Cups double.
This weekend the 17-horse Group 1 $3 million BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) field features three European visitors including Mullins’ veteran son of Beat Hollow Wicklow Brave.
The ‘Magic Man’ Moreira is aboard for the ride on the out-and-out stayer who has run fourth in his three latest runs back in Europe.
In August Wicklow Brave carted a hefty 60.5kg to fourth in the Group 1 Goodwood Cup (3218m) before his fourth to Order Of St George with 61kg aboard a fortnight later in the Group 3 St Leger Trial (2816m).
The galloper was last seen running at The Curragh on September 10 in the Group 1 Irish St Leger (2816m) where he ran a distant fourth behind the same Aidan O’Brien-trained winner of the Trial, Order Of St George.
Connections are hoping that form can stack-up down under in the Caulfield Cup this weekend and into the Group 1 $6 million Melbourne Cup (3200m) over two miles at Flemington on Tuesday November 7.
“He seems in good form. He’s got Grade 1 form, this a Grade 1 race and we know it’s going to be tough,” Mullins’ assistant trainer David Casey told the Herald Sun this week.
“But if things fall well, he’s going to run well. He looks great.”
Wicklow Brave sits as a $67 outsider in pre-field Melbourne Cup odds for the classic, while he is also a roughie in Caulfield Cup betting this weekend paying $41 for the upset.
In Australia Wicklow Brave races as a nine-year-old, but even if he started as an eight-year-old as he does in Europe, only three of that age have triumphed in the Caulfield Cup: Tom Kirk (1880), Purser (1924) and Taufan’s Melody (1998).
History may be against the nine-year-old age-wise, but the horse does enjoy a nice bit of weight relief coming right down to 54kg.
A flat and jumps horse in Europe, Wicklow Brave has never carried anything less than 56kg over his 37 start to date.
Tuesday morning’s Caulfield Cup barrier draw also didn’t work in the raider’s favour with Wicklow Brave drawing gate 16 of 17.
Five of the past eight Caulfield Cup winners however have jumped from a double-digit gate including Dunaden who did it from gate 18 of 18 in 2012.
It has also been a while between drinks for the gelding whose last turf triumph was the Group 1 Champion Hurdle (3218m) in late April.
Punters though have to go right back to September of 2016 to find the last flat race win by Wicklow Brave when he carried 62kg to victory over Order Of St George in last year’s Irish St Leger.
Another international in the mix and a stablemate of the reigning Irish St Leger winner Order Of St George, Johannes Vermeer leads the latest Caulfield Cup odds at $4.80.
Wicklow Brave’s team have gained confidence with their galloper after the impressive first-up second by Johannes Vermeer in last Saturday’s Group 1 Ladbrokes Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield.
“When you look at the likes of Johannes Vermeer and those horses after running so well the other day, it gives your confidence and it gives you hope,” Casey said.
Wicklow Brave galloped at Kyneton on the course proper on Tuesday, working well in an important Caulfield Cup tune-up according to Casey.
“He worked over 2400m and let him roll from the 800m and then a little bit quicker from the 400m,” he said.
“He was good.”
Wicklow Brave raced once in Victoria last spring when finishing a disappointing 22nd behind Almandin in the Melbourne Cup after a testing ride by Frankie Dettori, but Casey believes he is an improved horse this prep.
“He’s seems better this year. He was a lamb coming out here to Kyneton,” Casey said.
“This year he’s settled straight in here.”
To back Wicklow Brave to make Caulfield Cup history and score the biggest upset since All The Good (40/1 in 2008), head to Ladbrokes.com.au today.
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