Nov 16, 2017 02:27 AM
Author: Mike Steward
Melbourne Cup rivals return for battle at Sandown
The carnival enters its final leg at Sandown on Saturday. The MRC have compiled a ten race program with no less than six Group level races.
The Group 2 Zipping Classic is one of the feature events on the card bringing together the 2016 Melbourne Cup winner Almandin and fourth placed Big Duke in this year's Cup, amongst other hopefuls.
Race Track Traits
The Sandown Hillside track gives runners one of the fairest set of courses in the country but it still offers up its peculiarities which punters should be aware of before they punt.
- Wet weather - since its upgrade the track is considered to be one of the best wet weather tracks in the country.
- Space - there is plenty of it at Sandown including a straight that almost spans 500m. This space offers runners one of the best opportunities to find clear air in the run for home, compared to other race tracks around the country.
- The rise - one of the unique features at Sandown is the rise in the home straight which presents an uphill climb at the key point in the race where runners are most fatigued.
The early moves have come for the two shortest priced starters in the betting.
Almandin has been backed into $2.60 from his $2.80 openers, while the second favourite Big Duke has come in from $3.50 to be $3.30 in current fixed odds markets.
#1 Almandin 2.80 -> 2.60
Was wide throughout in the Melbourne Cup after jumping from barrier 14.
He won well two runs prior when carrying 61kg over 2500m then disappointed against arguably tougher rivals. Expect him to get an easier run in transit compared to the Bart Cummings. With even luck he is right in the finish.
#2 Big Duke 3.50 -> 3.30
First run after a solid fourth in the Melbourne Cup.
Ran a close second in the G1 Metrop and then won the St Leger at Randwick.
His fourth in the Moonee Valley Cup was a definite 'forgive run' after Avdulla couldn't find room when they quickened before the turn and never really had a go at them in the home straight.
Gets his chance here.
#8 The Taj Mahal 3.50 -> 3.80
Raced well in Europe up to Group 1 level before coming to Australia. His best local effort came in the G1 Mackinnon when finishing 1.8 lengths fourth behind Tosem Stardom.
Has been competitive up to 2000m. Contender.
#4 Berisha 13 -> 14
Rates some chance on the back of his second in the Cranbourne Cup behind Cox Plate place getter Folkswood.
Was just okay in the Geelong Cup. Some case to suggest he didn't see clear air but didn't really look like he would have been amongst the money.
Carried weight well at his recent outing. Place chance looks his best hope.
#6 So Si Bon 13 -> 14
Close to writing "Non Winner" in my files for this bloke. Despite the small field, the rise to 2400m under weight-for-age conditions looks a stretch.
#7 Consomateur 13 -> 16
Untried at this distance but recent racing suggests she is crying out for it. Meets smarter opposition here. Place chance.
#3 Assign 16 -> 18
Was found to be lame at his recent outing. Finished close to Humidor in the Turnbull before that, where Winx was the dominant winner.
Won the G2 Herbert Power over 2400m in the 2016 spring. Not sure he is the same horse this preparation.
#5 Daddy Gent 51
Placed up to listed grade at this distance. Will relish the extra distance here and could sneak a place.
1st Big Duke - really like his chances in this. Has great credentials and loses nothing with Lane steering.
3rd Daddy Gent