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Racing Victoria’s Chief Handicapper Greg Carpenter this week named Chris Waller’s Turnbull Stakes winner Preferment as a strong Melbourne Cup 2015 hope for the first Tuesday of November after a solid Cox Plate performance.
Waller celebrated his 54th Group 1 success when his freakish mare Winx blitzed last Saturday’s quality $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) field in an historical and record-breaking edition of the classic by nearly five lengths.
She was one of three in the Cox Plate for Waller who also saddled-up Kermadec (13th) and Preferment (9th).
The latter of those unplaced runners, Zabeel stallion Preferment, was on Monday one of 42 second acceptors to continue his Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign on November 3 in the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington Racecourse.
Should he line-up in the 24-starter Melbourne Cup field he will be looking to become the first four-year-old winner of the ‘race that stops a nation’ since the Mark Kavanagh-trained Shocking (2009) who won the double along with Derby Day’s Group 3 Lexus Stakes three days earlier.
Waller still has four Melbourne Cup entries in the mix as he chases his maiden ‘Loving Trophy’.
Preferment is joined by Waller’s Sydney Cup quinella over the distance in the autumn Grand Marshall and Who Shot Thebarman along with his eight-year-old gelding Beaten Up.
Winner of the 2013 Doomben Cup but nothing since, Beaten Up is right on the cusp of a Melbourne Cup start sitting 24th on the latest order of entry.
He will look to secure his position with a win on Derby Day, Beaten Up nominated for both of the races offering a Melbourne Cup ballot exemption to the winner – the Lexus Stakes and the $1 million Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m).
Preferment meanwhile is already guaranteed a starting spot in the world’s richest handicap next week sitting 10th on the Melbourne Cup ballot with 53.5kg, an exact weight not carried to victory in the two mile classic since Empire Rose (1988).
Carpenter believes the light weight puts Preferment right in the mix for a very strong edition of the Melbourne Cup, and rated his Cox Plate run when 12.65 lengths off his winning stablemate a solid run.
“Preferment was very solid in the Cox Plate, and takes 53.5kg into the Melbourne Cup, so it’s going to be one of the strongest renewals we’ve had,” he said of the 2015 Melbourne Cup.
Returning to Flemington will also work in Preferment’s favour as he has won his two previous starts at the track including the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at the start of the month.
The other best Melbourne Cup hope coming out of the Cox Plate according to Carpenter is the fast-finishing runner-up Criterion who also broke Might And Power’s track record when second past the post to Waller’s runaway winner.
The four-time Group 1 winning David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Sebring stallion, Criterion suffered interference on the turn for home in the Cox Plate and looks like he will handle the step up to 3200m.
“With Criterion running so well in the Cox Plate, that’s a brilliant Melbourne Cup trial,” Carpenter said.
Japan’s Fame Game ($4) leads Melbourne Cup betting after a sixth on debut down under in the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) from October 17.
Carpenter rated the Caulfield Cup as a strong edition of the mile and a half clash, won by the New Zealand-trained Mongolian Khan for Murray Baker.
Four-year-old Mongolian Khan is now an $8 co-second favourite in futures Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au, home of Best Tote or SP + 20% on the Group 1 Melbourne majors this season, along with Caulfield Cup runner-up Trip To Paris.
Newmarket-based British horseman Ed Dunlop prepares Trip To Paris and is best known for his three Melbourne Cup seconds achieved in the past four years by Red Cadeaux.
Carpenter believes Trip To Paris with 55kg in the Melbourne Cup is a big chance to turn the tables on Mongolian Khan, and also likes the chances of the Michael Bell-trained Goodwood Cup winner Big Orange who is yet to run down under.
“The quality’s outstanding,” Carpenter said.
“The last roll of the dice will be the Lexus on Saturday. We’ve got really strong nominations from that race.
“There’s also the Mackinnon – but generally those horses are safely in the field.
“Without doubt, the strength is there.
“The Caulfield Cup was a great renewal. We’ve got a second wave of internationals go into the race.
“Horses like Big Orange – his form is enhanced by Trip To Paris’ Caulfield Cup run.”
Trip To Paris had the same weight in the Caulfield Cup, while Mongolian Khan goes up from 55kg to 56kg as he looks to become the first Spring Cups double winner since fellow Kiwi Ethereal (2001).
The 2015 Melbourne Cup field and barriers are due out on Saturday afternoon after the Victoria Derby Day racing action, which punters can enjoy Best Tote or SP + 20% on only at Ladbrokes.com.au this weekend!
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