The continued internationalisation of Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival adds interest to tomorrow’s $2.5 million Caulfield Cup but it will be Australia’s premier jockey, Damien Oliver, who has the chance to gain a place in racing history if he can ride the winner.
Oliver has ridden four Caulfield Cup winners – in 1992, 1994, 1995 and 1999. Only one jockey in the race’s illustrious history has ridden more – the great Scobie Breasley, who rode the cup winner in 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945 and again in 1952. If Oliver can equal Breasley’s record that has stood for 54 years, the 92-year-old racing legend will be at Caulfield to congratulate him.
Tomorrow Oliver will be relying on a Japanese owned and trained horse, Pop Rock, to equal Breasley’s record. And Pop Rock might be showing $17 in pre-post markets, but he has a most impressive record. But it’s also an interesting record – six career wins, 0 seconds and seven thirds. And he has won his last four starts, all between 2200 metres and 2500 metres. The Caulfield Cup is run over 2400 metres.
The other point of interest will be whether the stand-out trainer of the year, Lee Freedman, can not only train the winner, but the runner-up as well. He has the two favourites in the race – the impressive last-start winner, Sphenophyta, and the very well-performed, Our Smoking Joe. The curiously named Sphenophyta (who would be a racecaller?!) could not have been more impressive two weeks ago in winning the Turnbull Stakes, one of the traditional lead-up races to the Caulfield Cup.
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But it’s a field with many chances, and a number of horses on trial for the Melbourne Cup. My own pick is the Sydney gelding, Activation, the runner-up in the AJC Metropolitan. Activation is owned by a man used to success in big races, Lloyd Williams.
The Caulfield Cup has a mixed record as a guide to the Melbourne Cup. The Cup placegetters used to be a good pointer but the internationalisation of the Melbourne Cup has changed that. The Cup and supporting events will top off another very successful Caulfield carnival, with the next major event being the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on Saturday week.