The internationals are dropping like flies at Werribee and tipping a winner in the Caulfield Cup is becoming harder than quantum mechanics. Bande was the latest blow-in, to blow-out following the withdrawl of Dandino on Thursday. Only one Japanese raider is holding up in tomorrow’s classic Cup, Admire Rakti ($8 with TAB.com.au) will be flying the flag solo for the Rising Sun.
Don’t worry too much about barrier draws, their importance is always overstated. It gives the media something to talk about, and the owners something extra to worry about, but in truth they are not a great guide.
Check the full TAB.com.au market for the $3 million Caulfield Cup here.
The statisticians will supply you with endless history about the relative value of particular barrier positions. Barriers become relevant mostly after the race has started. Unless you’re a gypsy fortune teller, and you can predict with stunning accuracy exactly which horse will lead the race, and how fast it will go, then you’re guessing like the rest of us.
Pace has far more relevance that barrier positions. Wide barriers can be an advantage if the pace is fast, the track is wet, and the track is a tad biased towards the outside, or even all of the above. Inside gates can be lethal if the pace is slow or the fence is “off”. Middle gates are the safest bet.
Our friends from the Far East have drawn barrier 8 with Admire Rakti. If you could choose your own gate (provided you didn’t get Gai to do it), you would choose this one.
(Clip from March 23rd at Hanshin – the G2 Hanshin Daishoten. Admire Rakti 2nd to Gold Ship.)
Last time the Japanese horses came for a spring offensive was 2006. Quarantine has played its role in keeping them at home since then. It was a pretty successful campaign. Delta Blues ran third in the Caulfield Cup and then he and Pop Rock filled the quinella in the big one at Flemington – “very happy!”
This time, the Japanese are using a jockey with experience in Melbourne. Zac Purton is no stranger to spring success in Melbourne, and there is no doubt he is one of the best riders in the world. This mitigates the pilot error factor that caused us all so much suspicion when Delta Blues was here in 2006.
The Group 1 Caulfield Cup is set to jump at 5:40pm (AEDT). Tune in to Sky Racing to catch all the action!
The Japan galloper will run well. They do it all over the world, and their stayers are top of the class.
Of the locals, I’m looking at Chris Waller – why not? He is making a serious habit of winning big races. Of his four runners I’m partial to Who Shot The Barman ($16). He’s in form and has fewer convictions at this distance than Chris’s other runners, even though Junoob ($12) won a solid staying test at Randwick in the Metropolitan Hcp (2400m). I can see Who Shot The Barman finishing off well from the 600m mark, where some of the field will faint. A slightly wider draw won’t cramp his style if Bossy can get some cover.
The local punters will be pinning their faith in the in Kris Lees-trained Lucia Valentina. The four-year-old currently holds favouritism at $4 with TAB.com.au after scoring an impressive victory in the Turnbull Stakes. There's no doubt she must now rise to another level, but who's to say the classy mare isn't capable of producing on the biggest stage?
I can’t tip with great confidence this early. From the time of writing this there is still over 24 hours and a lot can happen – rain, another breakdown, pacemakers withdrawn, etc.
But right now my three are Admire Rakti, Who Shot The Barman and Lucia Valentina.
I think the Caulfield Cup is the hardest of the two cups to win – more luck required than the Melbourne Cup. Pick out half a dozen and box a first-four for some fun.
G3 - The Coral.co.uk Winter Derby (class 1)
G2 - The Sky Bet Dovecote Novices' Hurdle Race (class 1)
G2 - The Betbright Pendil Novices' Steeple Chase (class 1)
G2 - The Betbright Adonis Juvenile Hurdle Race (class 1)
G3 - The Betbright Steeple Chase (handicap) (class 1)