The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
A final spot in the Melbourne Cup field is on offer this Saturday in the 2017 Lexus Stakes, odds on the VRC Derby Day support act favouring the Lindsay Park-trained Harlem to gain a run in the ‘Race That Stops A Nation’.
The David Hayes-led Lindsay Park stable already have two confirmed runners in next Tuesday’s Group 1 $6.25 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) with Caulfield Cup winner Boom Time and Ventura Storm in the starting line-up.
The team could have three runners come Saturday afternoon should stablemate Harlem salute for the punters in the Group 3 $300,000 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington.
Eight of the 10 stayers in this year’s Lexus Stakes field are vying for the Melbourne Cup ballot exemption nominated for but sitting outside the top 24 on the order of entry for the two mile classic.
The shortest-priced of those in pre-field Melbourne Cup odds at $34 through Ladbrokes.com.au and the firming $3.80 favourite in the Lexus Stakes betting markets is Champs Elysees six-year-old Harlem.
On Saturday the entire jumps from barrier four with Dwayne Dunn, who rides the Chris Waller-trained Libran in the Melbourne Cup field in 2017, in the saddle.
Like Boom Time (1st) and Ventura Storm (13th), Harlem is also out of the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) having placed under four lengths back eighth behind his winning stablemate.
That followed a fifth to Amelie’s Star in the Group 3 The Bart Cummings (2500m) where the reigning Melbourne Cup winner and current favourite to go back-to-back, Almandin, ran fourth as the beaten favourite.
European import Harlem has winning form over 2400m overseas and chases his second win in Australia after his three and a quarter length Caulfield victory on September 23 in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m).
He comes up notably from the 51.5kg lightweight in the Caulfield Cup to 57kg on Saturday, but is still tipped as the horse to beat in the Lexus.
Second favourite in Lexus Stakes betting this Melbourne Cup Carnival at $5.50 is Aloft, a chance to line-up as one of a possible seven Melbourne Cup horses for five-time winning owner and last year’s successful connection Lloyd Williams.
Ben Melham rides the Aidan O’Brien-trained Irish visitor Johannes Vermeer for Williams in the Melbourne Cup, but partners Galileo six-year-old Aloft this weekend.
Aloft is currently sitting 28th on the Melbourne Cup ballot and is out to improve on a second last when ninth behind Lord Fandango in the Group 2 Ladbrokes Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) on October 14.
The proven stayer has winning form up to two miles and gets the chance to atone on Saturday.
The other big dangers in the markets for the Lexus Stakes include Vengeur Masque ($7), Alward ($7), Cismontane ($7.50) and Kellstorm ($7.50) who all follow closely.
Vengeur Masque comes off a lead-up win in the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) and is a winning hope again according to jockey Patrick Moloney.
The in-form Alward represents Waller and has won four of his six latest runs.
Last year’s winning Melbourne Cup jockey Kerrin McEvoy is on the imported Aqlaam five-year-old who hasn’t raced in Melbourne since August.
Cismontane is from the stables of Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott, the son of High Chaparral on the quick back-up after a brave on-speed run holding for third in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m) on Ladbrokes Cox Plate Day.
Kellstorm is prepared by Darren Weir and after a The Bart Cummings third at Flemington, finished under two lengths back sixth in the Geelong Cup.
Check out the latest Lexus Stakes 2017 odds below on the possible Melbourne Cup horses, markets open now at Ladbrokes.com.au.
2017 Lexus Stakes Betting
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