The airborne Kelly Schweida-trained...
It could be a huge couple of weeks for the Darren Weir-trained import Gailo Chop who takes on Winx in Saturday’s Ladbrokes Cox Plate looking to stake his 2017 Melbourne Cup claims.
Weir, who won the ‘race that stops a nation’ in a boilover with Prince Of Penzance ($101 in 2015) two years back, hasn’t ruled out a Group 1 $6.2 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) bid for Gailo Chop this spring.
The in-form Deportivo seven-year-old however has to show-up at The Valley on Saturday first and be competitive against the world’s best mare Winx in the Group 1 $3 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) to progress onto Flemington’s two mile classic on Tuesday November 7.
Gailo Chop is raced by OTI Racing and managing part-owner Terry Henderson told Racing Victoria this week that a run in the Cox Plate trifecta would see the horse chase a start in the Melbourne Cup.
“It’s certainly there as an aim if we are in a position to do it,” Henderson said.
Chris Waller’s dual defending Cox Plate winner Winx is odds-on at $1.16 in the latest markets for the weight-for-age feature this weekend through Ladbrokes.com.au to emulate Kingston Town with a trio of wins.
She is the 22nd odds-on Cox Plate favourite to line-up in the race and before her 15 have saluted, a good strike-rate enhanced by her success by a record eight length winning margin as the $1.70 top fancy 12 months ago.
The second favourite in Ladbrokes Cox Plate betting firming right in from $21 to $16 is the three-year-old Royal Symphony to be ridden by Dean Yendall who partnered the filly Yankee Rose for her third in last year’s trifecta.
Weir meanwhile saddles-up two brave rivals for Winx in the nine-starter Cox Plate field in 2017 with Humidor ($20) backing-up off a fifth in last weekend’s Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and Gailo Chop ($19).
Drawn a treat in barrier four with Mark Zahra to ride, Gailo Chop was excellent last time out at weight-for-age defeating the international visitor Johannes Vermeer and the autumn’s ATC Derby winner Jon Snow in Caulfield’s Group 1 Ladbrokes Stakes (2000m) on October 14.
Winx did the Ladbrokes Stakes – Cox Plate double in 2016 and the win in the former from Gailo Chop was a nice improvement on his earlier runs when fourth in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) behind stablemate Humidor and the third to Bonneval in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m).
A winner of six of his nine starts over the 2000m, Gailo Chop could be tested over much further than that in the Melbourne Cup field post the Cox Plate.
“We’ve always thought he would [run 3200m],” Henderson said.
“He was bought as a Melbourne Cup horse as a lot of ours at that stage were.
“Everything about the characteristics of the horse in terms of his lung capacity, his relaxed style of racing and you get a little bit of support from his breeding, says he’ll run well in a race like the Melbourne Cup.”
Currently Gailo Chop sits well down the Melbourne Cup order of entry in 46th position with 55.5kg so needs a high attrition rate, weight penalty or ballot exemplifying win on way to the famous Flemington Race 7 to make the 24-starter field.
His price in futures Melbourne Cup betting has him being kept relatively safe at $26 with the all-in odds topped by the Lloyd Williams-owned defending champion Almandin ($6) and Caulfield Cup eye-catcher Marmelo ($6.50) over from the UK.
“I don’t think it’s pie-in-the-sky stuff,” Henderson said of targeting the Melbourne Cup with Gailo Chop.
“We’re not saying that if we get into the race, we are going to win it but I see him going around as a 10/1 to 15/1 shot with the form that he’s in now and the characteristics that he’s got.
“There are a lot of also-rans in the Melbourne Cup in a sense and that’s because of the handicap nature of it so I think he’d fit well into a Melbourne Cup field.”
A top three finish in the Cox Plate results on Saturday could see Gailo Chop move up the Melbourne Cup ballot into seventh position and while Henderson isn’t tipping their horse to upset Winx, a placing certainly looks possible.
“If she gets a quarter of the luck that she needs, she wins – she’s so much better than anything else,” he said.
“Certainly from what I’ve seen. I haven’t seen better except for maybe Frankel.
“She’s up there with the best I’ve seen and I can remember Tulloch.”
To back Gailo Chop for a Cox Plate 2017 place behind Winx and to check the latest Melbourne Cup betting odds visit Ladbrokes.com.au today.
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