Draw Favours Bart’s Shot At A 13th Cup

Bart Cummings is favoured to win his 13th Emirates Melbourne Cup in its historic 150th year after his latest superstar So You Think drew perfectly in barrier three for Tuesday’s $6m race at Flemington.

The dual Tatts Cox Plate champion, who won his fourth consecutive Group 1 race in today’s $1m Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington, is one of two runners for the Hall of Fame Legend.

Last start Cathay Pacific Airways (Moonee Valley) Cup winner Precedence is the other. He drew barrier 15.

Whilst So You Think drew perfectly, it was a different tale for defending champion Shocking who drew the extreme outside gate of 24.

Trainer Mark Kavanagh will take solace in the fact that Shocking jumped from barrier 21 when he won last year’s race.

A record nine internationals will contest this year’s Cup with representatives from Japan, Hong Kong, Ireland, UK, France and the United Arab Emirates joining runners from New Zealand and the host country.

Iron horse Tokai Trick has the honour of being the first Japanese runner in the Cup since countrymen Delta Blues and Pop Rock went one-two in the 2006 edition. He drew perfectly in barrier four.

Dermot Weld, the only European trainer to win the Melbourne Cup, has been handed an obstacle in his pursuit of a third Cup after his mare Profound Beauty drew barrier 22.

Godolphin will launch a two-pronged assault in search of its maiden Cup with the Frankie Dettori-ridden Holberg drawing barrier 10 and Campanologist, to be ridden by 2000 Cup-winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy, handed barrier 19.

Other key runners in this year’s race include French star Americain (12), 2008 runner-up Bauer (2) and his emerging stablemate Manighar (20), BMW Caulfield Cup winner Descarado (1) and today’s runaway The Lexus Stakes winner Maluckyday (6).

Click here to view the 150th Emirates Melbourne Cup field.

Tamer Trounces Victoria Derby Rivals

They had to settle for second place with Harris Tweed in the BMW Caulfield Cup, but Murray and Bjorn Baker got their spring feature when Lion Tamer destroyed his rivals in Saturday’s $1.5 million AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington.

The Kiwi father and son training combination celebrated becoming the first official training partnership to win Australia’s oldest Classic when their underrated colt relished the wet conditions.

Bjorn Baker said it was the realisation of a long-held dream for his father. “I remember asking my father as a child, I said ‘what race do you want to win the most?’ and he said the VRC Derby,” Baker said. “So it’s very special to come here and win that.”

The Bakers’ son of Storming Home treated the dedicated crowd of 90,361 to one of the most dominant displays seen in the race that was first run in 1855, coasting home by six-and-a-half lengths.

While he was five wide heading out of the straight from barrier 14 at the tricky 2500m start, top Sydney jockey Hugh Bowman had attained the spot outside leader Almindoro within 300m.

Bowman sat there until around 600m from home when moved alongside Almindoro before giving Lion Tamer his head early in the straight.

He responded by shooting five lengths clear by the 200m, a margin he extended over the final furlong.

Praecido ($18) flashed home from the rear to grab second, just in advance of $4 second favourite Retrieve with Digital Fortress ($7.50) a length back in fourth spot.

Rekindled Interest ($3.80 fav) enjoyed a lovely run one off the fence but failed to come on in the straight.

Bowman was blown away by how effortlessly Lion Tamer, who ran second to Rekindled Interest in last week’s AAMI Vase, notched the fifth win of his 11-start career.

“I couldn’t believe it when I put five on them,” he said. “At the 600 I was just breaking his jaw trying to hold him and I thought we’d had it pretty easy and I knew he’d stick so I let him go and I just couldn’t believe it.”

So You Think He’s Something Special?

So You Think confirmed his billing as Australian racing’s hottest property with an arrogant victory in the $1m Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.

The four-year-old entire franked his reputation as a freak and with it raced his way back into favouritism for the 150th Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on Tuesday.

He is on target for the best Spring Racing Carnival since Rising Fast cut a swath through Melbourne’s premier races in 1954.

The dual Tatts Cox Plate winner sat third and fourth with cover before exploding away from his rivals at the 200-metre mark to win his fifth Group 1 at just his 11th start.

The victory would have brought a smile to his Hall of Fame trainer, 82-year-old Bart Cummings, who is recuperating from a respiratory problem in Melbourne’s Epworth Hospital.

Second across the line, some 3.8 lengths in arrears, was BMW Caulfield Cup winner Descarado ($13) who led and provided something for the weight-for-age field to chase.

Filling third place was Kiwi visitor Ginga Dude ($18) who denied Shoot Out ($11) in a photo, with defending Melbourne Cup champion Shocking ($6) finishing sixth on what was a slow track.

Cummings’ Melbourne foreman Reg Fleming was shaking his head in amazement at the deeds of So You Think.

“He amazes me this horse, I don’t know what he can do,” he said. “He’s won rain, hail or shine it doesn’t seem to matter to him.

“You like to see them hitting the line really good and today he did that.”

Fleming was adamant the horse would have no problem backing up in the Melbourne Cup – his first assignment beyond 2040 metres.

“He’s a good doer, strong horse, I don’t think it will be a problem,” he said.

Winning jockey Steve Arnold was also in awe of So You Think and whilst he still has some lingering doubts about the two miles of the Melbourne Cup he said today gave him greater confidence.

“I’m a little bit concerned about the two miles and probably still am but that was a real positive today. He relaxed so well and was so strong late. I reckon today was a real positive,” he said.

“He seems to have pulled up great. He’s pulled up super in himself, he was jumping around coming in so I don’t think it’s hurt him too much.”

Arnold said he let the horse stride out under his steam from the gate and tried to nurse him to the 400-metre mark before unleashing his withering sprint.

“I didn’t want to restrain him from the stalls and get him cranky early on so I let him stride a little bit through the first furlong and then he got a nice rhythm and let a couple go and he just cantered in the run,” he explained.

“I only wanted to go down the last two (furlongs, 400m) strong, but those weight-for-age races they’ve been making it a bit of a test because he’s the best horse.

“Today I just wanted to wait a bit longer and he actually had a look around at the furlong, he’s an awesome horse.”

Witness Stars In Coolmore Stud Stakes

Star Witness followed in the footsteps of sibling Ferocity when he scored a crushing win in Saturday’s $500,000 Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington.

This year’s Blue Diamond winner pulled off an ambitious campaign by top trainer Danny O’Brien, who resisted the temptation to target the Caulfield Guineas (1600m) and instead aim for the 1200-metre Group 1.

It was a race Ferocity, who is out of former top racemare Leone Chiara, won when it was a Group 2 run in September and O’Brien said to win a Group 1 version on AAMI Derby Day ranked among the Flemington trainer’s career highlights.

“I trained his three-quarter brother Ferocity to win an Ascot Vale and always from the time he won as a two-year-old we had it in our minds that the straight course would be his best racing,” O’Brien said.

“We’ve been looking forward to this all spring. We left the (Caulfield) Guineas alone and waited for this race, so there was a lot riding on today and to produce him and have him produce has been very satisfying.”

Star Witness ran up to a slashing jumpout with Hay List at Flemington on Tuesday to score a decisive win.

The son of Starcraft jumped well from barrier two and trailed speedy filly Solar Charged until the 500m mark, which was when jockey James Winks popped into the open to mount a challenge.

He cruised to the lead within 200m before surging away from his rivals over the final furlong.

At the line the $5 equal favourite had two lengths to spare over $41 chance Curtana,while Shrapnel ($13) didn’t have a lot of luck between the 400m and 200m but still grabbed third, three quarters of a length back.

Pressday ($6) lost all chance when he bombed the start, while Soul ($7) was under pressure a long way out and had to settle for equal sixth with Sistine Angel.

Winks said Star Witness, who ran fourth behind Black Caviar at his final Coolmore lead-up, said he relished the return to Flemington and felt he had the race won along way out.

“He just travelled so good,” Winks said. “He’s a totally different horse down the straight, he finds a rhythm, he relaxes and I actually had to grab a hold of him again (because) he was just going to get there too early.

“When I pushed the button he put it beyond doubt.” Star Witness will be back in action up the Flemington straight next Saturday with O’Brien eager to take on Black Caviar and Hay List in the $750,000 Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic.

Flemington Saturday Selections

Victoria Derby Meeting – Saturday October 30

Race 1 – 1. Skilled 2. Mr Chard 4. Ace Acosta

Race 2 – 5. Linton (SPECIAL) 8. Moudre 1. Alcopop

Race 3 – 2. Divorces 7. Brazilian Pulse 15. Very Cherry

Race 4 – 2. Pressday 1. Star Witness 9. Sistine Angel

Race 5 – 6. So You Think 1. Shocking 10. Trusting

Race 6 – 1. Retrieve 2. Rekindled Interest 11. Almindoro

Race 7 – 2. Typhoon Tracy 1. Hot Danish 12. Yosei

Race 8 – 5. Swift Alliance (EACH-WAY SPECIAL) 3. Catapulted 6. Shellscrape

Race 9 – 12. We’re Gonna Rock 1. Dao Dao 8. Rockpecker