Yesterday, the weights were released for the big Spring cups at Caulfield and Melbourne.
As well as giving the expected weights of some key runners, it also gives us an indication of who’s getting a run. If you’re in the top 40 or so in the weights, then you’re a live chance to be lining up at Flemington on 5th November.
The headline news is the reigning champ, Cross Counter, being given a 6.5kg bump since last year. Whilst it seems like a harsh ‘punishment’ it is also tough to argue with Greg Carpenter’s decision. The gelding proved itself over the 2 mile course winning with relative ease in the end last year and has since won the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup and had two further runs in the UK at Group 1 level finishing in the top 4 both times behind Stardivarius, who many argue is the top 2-mile horse in the world right now.
Given the recent trend of young European horses carrying a light weight to win the race, you have to wonder if it will be too big of an ask carrying 57.5kg.
The rest of last year’s top 3, Marmelo and Prince of Arran are set to return with the same weight as before and will be hoping to go one better. Prince of Arran currently sits 41st in the order but Marmelo is all but certain to be lining up after the allocated 56kg sits the Hughie Morrison-trained horse 7th on the order of entry.
As mentioned before, the last couple of winners have been relatively light raced, European raiders carrying light weights, Rekindling winning in 2017 with 51.5kg on his back under Corey Brown. If the trend is going to continue, then we should be looking for 4 year-old horses with a light weight on their back.
However, it is worth noting that in June of this year Racing Victoria essentially changed the rules to adjust the weight-for-age scale in Europe and Australia which essentially increases the benchmark weight for these runners.
Constantinople (52.5kg) out of Ireland is now being trained by the Hayes, Hayes and Dabernig stable. With one win under his belt at the Curragh at Group 3 level this horse may be just the type to sneak under the radar a little.
Django Freeman carries the same 52.5kg and trained by Robert Hickmott, this Chestnut has been running in Germany and out of six runs, it has three wins and three seconds, including runner up in the Group 1 German Derby in his last run.
Il Paradiso, trained by Aidan O’Brien finished 3rd (of 4) behind Stradivarius at York last month and carrying the light-weight, you know Aidan is looking to match his son’s feat by training the cup winner. Is this his chance in 2019’s running of the race? If not, perhaps he’ll be looking for $26 chance, Kew Gardens who is the top weight at 58kg. The Irish horse hasn’t won since September 2018 but that was the Group 1 St Leger and in it’s last run was 2nd behind Defoe in the G1 Coronation Cup at Epsom.
Of course the winner may not come from these horses new to Australia, with Homesman impressive winning the Feehan at Moonee Valley last week it sits 6th on the order with a 56kg carry.
My tip last year was Finche who carried 54kg under Zac Purton and after looming up round the bend faded slightly to finish 4th following up a 3rd place finish at the Geelong Cup. Carrying the same weight this year but a year older, Finche returned to racing in the Chelmsford at Randwick on Saturday finishing 5th in what was clearly a race too short for the son of Frankel. Currently 3rd favourite at $19, I reckon it is a good chance to go close again, and it will certainly be included in my exotics!
There is a lot of racing between now and the first Tuesday in November which will shake up the order and course conditions on the day will go a long way to changing the respective chances, but it is well worth starting to look now with so many form lines to try and weave together, after all, is there anything better than being able to say you tipped the winner in the cup?
My early tip: Finche – $19
Others I like: Rostropovich, Django Freeman, Neufbosc.
Bet on the all-in market here.