The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
The punters have shied away from the international top-weight and are coming for the Chris Waller-trained mare Verry Elleegant who is now the clear favourite in Caulfield Cup 2020 betting this weekend.
On Wednesday the field was confirmed for the Group 1 $5 million Stella Artois Caulfield Cup (2400m) and early betting was a two-horse affair between the Aidan O’Brien-trained Irish raider Anthony Van Dyck and Waller’s classy daughter of Zed Verry Elleegant.
Following the Caulfield Cup barrier draw, the money has come for Verry Elleegant (55kg) who is out to become the first mare to win carrying more than 54.5kg since Tranquil Star (56kg in 1942).
Since then, the only mare to cart more than 52.5kg to victory was Mannerism (54.5kg in 1992) giving Verry Elleegant a tough task in the mile and a half classic on Saturday.
As a filly in the autumn of 2019, Verry Elleegant took out the Group 1 ATC Oaks over the 2400m before returning a year later at Rosehill to win this year’s Group 1 Tancred Stakes at the distance.
She won her third elite level first-up in August’s Group 1 Winx Stakes (1400m) before heading to Flemington two runs later to become a five-time Group 1 champion with a gutsy win in the Turnbull Stakes (2000m).
Verry Elleegant stays in Melbourne now and chases a fifth Group 1 win getting back up in distance and races at the Caulfield track for just the second time in her career.
Her only other run at the course produced a Group 3 Ethereal Stakes (2000m) win on Caulfield Cup Day 2018.
Originally drawn barrier 11, the early withdrawal of the Michael Moroney-trained Mornington Cup winner Aktau (1) from the Caulfield Cup field due to a tendon injury has her in 10 which could become 8 should the other emergencies fail to gain a run come race morning.
Verry Elleegant is into $5 in the latest Caulfield Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au and the 58.5kg top weight Anthony Van Dyck remains the drifting danger at $6.50.
Hugh Bowman looks to ride the son of Galileo to victory from a wide barrier, the horse drawing the second-widest alley.
History says that is a non-issue however with three of the past four winners with a minimum 57kg jumping from barrier 13 or wider.
Japan’s Mer De Glace won from 17 last year to become the seventh Caulfield Cup winner in the past 11 years to salute from a double-digit barrier.
Last seen winning the Group 2 Prix Foy (2400m) in France with the same weight over the same distance in mid-September, Anthony Van Dyck is out to become the 10th Caulfield Cup winner to salute with 58.5kg but the first since the introduction of the metric system in 1972.
Being knocked off top spot in the Caulfield Cup betting markets is actually favourable too from a statistical standpoint as only Mongolian Khan ($5 in 2015) and Jameka ($4.20 in 2016) have saluted for the punters since 2007.
The only other Caulfield Cup hopeful this spring under $10 for the win is the Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained Master Of Wine ($7.50) to be ridden by last year’s Melbourne Cup winning hoop Craig Williams.
The six-year-old comes off a fast finishing fifth to Verry Elleegant in the Turnbull Stakes when making up plenty of late ground carrying 56.5kg over the 2000m and will appreciate the extra distance and drop in weight to just 53.5kg in the rematch this weekend.
The other best in Caulfield Cup betting in 2020 include another of the internationals with Buckhurst ($11) for former Melbourne Cup winning trainer Joseph O’Brien, Waller’s Turnbull Stakes third placed stayer Finche ($12) presenting fit third-up, runner-up in the same lead-up for the same stable Toffee Tongue ($15) and the early market mover Dalasan ($15).
The Leon Macdonald & Andrew Gluyas-trained Dalasan opened at $21 but has been smashed early by the punters.
He will be ridden by the ‘Wizard of the West’ William Pike, the Perth-based hoop enjoying a belter at the track on Caulfield Guineas Day with four wins including two Group 1 victories.
For Dalakhani four-year-old Dalasan, it is the stallion’s chance to secure his first win since April, but he was runner-up to Cox Plate favourite Russian Camelot in the Group 1 SA Derby (2500m) in the winter and was eye-catching when only a quarter-length fourth in the Turnbull last start.
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