The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Last year’s fourth placegetter Finche is the raceday favourite in Melbourne Cup 2019 betting with the punters coming for the Chris Waller-trained import to improve and hand his trainer with a maiden ‘Loving Trophy’.
In 2018 on the back of an Australian debut in the Geelong Cup, Finche finished fourth behind Cross Counter in the Melbourne Cup results.
Twelve months on and the improving son of Frankel looks a more furnished stayer.
The chestnut carried 54kg from barrier 15 when only 3.5 lengths beaten in the ‘race that stops a nation’ last spring.
This afternoon the now six-year-old gets in on the same Melbourne Cup weight and was one of the big winners in the 2019 Melbourne Cup barrier draw coming up trumps with gate four.
Barrier four recently produced the 2017 Melbourne Cup winner Rekindling and in a further boost for Finche, the proven stayer has last year’s winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy in the saddle.
McEvoy rode Finche for a second-up win in the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) in Sydney back in September.
Since then two different hoops have ridden the gelding with Damian Lane on for the narrow Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) second and Flemington and Michael Walker in the Caulfield Cup.
Finche was hampered by a wide gate (15 of 18) in the Caulfield Cup over the mile and a half on October 19 when a fast-finishing 1.6 lengths back fifth behind the Japanese-trained champion Mer De Glace.
Mer De Glace is back chasing the Spring Cups double for the fist time since Ethereal (2001), the Hisashi Shimizu-trained Rulership entire having won his last six starts on the trot.
A winner of over $5.48 million in prize money from just 18 career starts to date, Mer De Glace is a powerful finisher having overcome gate 17 of 18 in the Caulfield Cup for the one length victory over Vow And Declare.
The only query is the step-up to two miles for the Melbourne Cup, Mer De Glace also rising from a Caulfield Cup winning weight of 55.5kg to 56kg today.
The latest Melbourne Cup odds have the horse at $9, battling Finche for favouritism in the world’s richest handicap.
Rounding out the single-figure fancies in Melbourne Cup betting for the last of the ‘Big 3’ spring majors is one-time favourite Constantinople ($9.50).
The Lindsay Park-trained import, formerly prepared by Ireland’s Aidan O’Brien, is on the drift out from $7 despite being drawn ideally in barrier seven.
First-up down under the untapped Galileo four-year-old finished a close fourth in the Caulfield Cup and with natural improvement to come, he looks a massive hope again dropping a half-kilo to 52.5kg with the ‘Magic Man’ Joao Moreira in the saddle.
There’s also been a tickle of money for the feel-good story in the Melbourne Cup field, Surprise Baby backed in from $17 to $14 despite the wide barrier 20 draw.
The NZ-trained son of 2009 Melbourne Cup champion Shocking raced his way into this year’s event with the 1.5 length Group 3 The Bart Cummings (2520m) victory carrying 57kg.
This is a much tougher assignment, but Surprise Baby is a proven two miler having won the Group 2 Adelaide Cup back in March and he gets in on 53.5kg this afternoon even with a one kilo penalty.
The defending Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter is at $14 to go back-to-back for the first time since the Makybe Diva three-peat was completed in 2005, the local Danny O’Brien-trained Caulfield Cup runner-up Vow And Declare on the 52kg lightweight is a $12 chance to go one better from the nasty gate 21 draw, while Il Paradiso ($14) is the best fancied from Ireland this season.
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