After connections of the in-form Hartnell opted to head to the Cox Plate, Ciaron Maher’s Jameka now presents as the horse to beat in this Saturday’s Group 1 Caulfield Cup (Race 8) over 2400m although she’ll have to defy a cagey international contingent to land the prize.
With this race always at the forefront of Maher’s thinking for her spring campaign, Jameka has compiled a solid lead-in preparation to date and appears primed to produce her best back on home soil after chasing home the flying Hartnell in the Turnbull Stakes last time out.
Prior to that, she had romped to a near four-length win in the Naturalism to assert her credentials for this, with several of her rivals on Saturday amongst the vanquished brigade in that race.
The mare’s natural versatility ensures that drawing gate 13 shouldn’t pose too many problems for Nick Hall, who won this race aboard Fawkner back in 2013 and has a wonderful opportunity to land another Group 1 classic after replacing Craig Williams in the saddle mid-preparation.
In at Unibet headquarters, the punters well and truly had the better of us last weekend after a string of well-backed runners saluted on Caulfield Guineas day and we’re bracing ourselves for a serious deluge of cash in support of the favourite on Saturday.
Despite having plenty of respect for the horse’s ability we’re attempting to claw back some lost ground and are thus happy to accommodate punters wanting to try and give us a nosebleed again.
Williams will partner Darren Weir’s Real Love, who returned to winning ways with a thumping win in the JRA Cup at the Valley on Moir Stakes night.
While the record of her trainer merits obvious deference, this is a step up in opposition and we can’t help but feel she’s been slightly overrated off that effort.
This is particularly so when you consider she couldn’t get within six lengths of Jameka in the Naturalism and has struggled to make much headway around this circuit in the past.
With a number of foreign horses making their now-customary first Australian start in this race, our traders have reported strong interest in pre-post betting for Godolphin acquisition Scottish.
His impressive string of performances over the English summer convinced Newmarket-based trainer Charlie Appleby to fly him out for this.
Praised by leading local hoop James McDonald as a horse with a ‘good turn of foot and great tactical speed, the five-year-old gelding powered to victory in the Stensall Stakes at York last time out.
He fared beautifully at the draw having lobbed in seven and that should see him park just off the speed and run out a strong 2400m.
Lee Freedman is no stranger to this race having trained the winner on four occasions and he’ll be represented by Exospheric and Doomben Cup winner Our Ivanhowe.
Exospheric is a horse making his first start for the stable having raced in elite company abroad, most recently in the Juddmonte where he was far from disgraced in finishing fifth behind the highly talentedPostponed.
The booking of Damien Oliver is a plus but like a number of horses in the field we’re unsure how he will measure up and have adopted a somewhat cautionary hold on him as we await any strong leads in betting come raceday.
Canny German trainer Andreas Wohler has previous form on these shores having landed the 2014 Melbourne Cup with Protectionist and he’ll look to raid one of our major races again with the lightly-racedArticus, who has also come in for support in early betting despite being somewhat of an unknown proposition to Australian audiences.
Of the others, Tarzino has been crying out for the step up to a mile and a half but would need to find something extra after he only whacked away in the Turnbull.
Both Tally and Preferment have had their chances hindered by awkward draws and will need luck which probably leaves Metropolitan winner Sir John Hawkwood as the best of the remaining locally-trained hopes.
My Caulfield Cup Tips:
4. Real Love