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An improved Tom Melbourne will be out on show first-up on CF Orr Stakes Day this weekend with the Lee & Anthony Freedman-trained import looking to earn a shot at next month’s 2017 Australian Cup.
After one run in Ireland back in 2014 the lightly-raced son of Dylan Thomas has been down under since October the following year and is making a slow but steady progression through the ranks.
The now six-year-old is best known for his second in the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) last Victoria Derby Day.
Following that Tom Melbourne finished third in the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth (2600m) on Emirates Stakes Day and runs for the first time since on Saturday.
Drawn a treat in barrier two he is one of 11 gallopers facing off in the $150,000 Group 3 TS Carlyon Cup (1600m).
Well-weighted on 56kg in the set weights plus penalties clash, Tom Melbourne has Mark Zahra aboard for the first time since December of 2015 and is looking to break a winning drought going back to last year’s Albury Cup.
Co-trainer Lee Freedman is certain the galloper has come on well over his time in the paddock ready to show his best over the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival with a change of riding tactics and gear planned to help him settle.
“He’s had a good break after the Spring Carnival and we’ve been spending a lot of time down at Pinecliff trying to get him to accept a different mode of racing to what he was getting used to last prep,” Freedman told Racing Victoria on Friday.
“The problem with him early days is that he wouldn’t accept a cross-over noseband on him.
“He found it uncomfortable and really didn’t like it, but now he’s older, a season on, we are actually able to use it on him and that’s a great benefit for a horse like that.
“It should allow him to settle and run on.”
Freedman said the team were looking for a positive run in the Carlyon Cup to justify progressing on to Flemington for the $1.5 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) on ‘Super Saturday’ – March 11.
“He’s a good first-up horse but it’s quite a good field though,” he said.
“With an inner draw and ridden the way we’d like him to be ridden tomorrow, I would like to see him running on if there’s enough pace to allow him to run on.
“I don’t think he’s essentially a 1600-metre horse but with all the work we’ve done we would want to ride him off the speed tomorrow.”
In the latest TS Carlyon Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au Tom Melbourne pays $10 for the win in an open field.
Favourites in betting include the Darren Weir-trained Group 1 placed Kiwi import Humidor ($3.90), his in-form stablemate Burning Front ($4.20) chasing a third win on the trot and Perth Cup winning mare Real Love ($5.50) also from the Melbourne Cup winning stables of the Ballarat-based Weir.
As for futures Australian Cup odds Tom Melbourne is listed as a $21 chance to hand Hall of Famer Freedman with his first win since that of the mighty Makybe Diva back in 2005.
Despite the weight-for-age Australian Cup being an unlikely target for the world’s best turf horse Winx, the bookmakers are taking no chances and have her leading all-in markets at $3.50.
Chris Waller’s nine-time Group 1 champion returns to racing in Sydney on Saturday as the odds-on favourite in Randwick’s Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m).
Success will see the daughter of Street Cry extend her incredible winning streak to 14 on the trot as she heads towards the Chipping Norton Stakes and Queen Elizabeth Stakes later in the autumn.
Back your autumn tips this weekend at the right price online at Ladbrokes.com.au who are offering $1.80 odds on Winx in the Apollo Stakes (Max Bet $25 / T&Cs apply).
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