Almandin favoured


THE barrier draw has appeared to open up today’s Melbourne Cup, with a number of the fancied runners missing out on a top starting gate for the A$6 million (K14,693,537) race.
The defending champion, Almandin, another Lloyd Williams-owned entry Johannes Vermeer, the Darren Weir-trained Humidor and British galloper Marmelo are the only horses at $10 and under.
There will be 11 overseas-trained horses in the field this year, equalling the record from 2011 and 2015.
Six of the top 10 chances in the betting were internationals the day after the barrier draw, but the top two were the Robert Hickmott-trained Almandin and Humidor.
Almandin, who is looking to become the first horse since Makybe Diva to win back-to-back cups, was holding favouritism at $8 early on Sunday, out from $7 after the barrier draw.
He was ahead of Humidor, who came close to beating Winx in the Cox Plate a week ago at $9, and Marmelo — who was a fast-finishing sixth in the Caulfield Cup — at $9.50.
None of the trio drew closer to the inside than barrier 13 (Humidor), however, with Almandin to race from 14 and Marmelo from 16.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Johannes Vermeer, who was an eye-catching second in the Caulfield Stakes before a third place in the Caulfield Cup, drew a more helpful barrier three, and sits fourth in the market at $10.
Racing Victoria’s senior international recruiting officer Leigh Jordon, said all the trainers at the quarantine were happy with how their horses had acclimatised to Australia.
“They haven’t had any travel sickness, which is crucial [in acclimatising],” he told on Sunday.
The word from the quarantine centre at Werribee has been that Willie Mullins’ runner Max Dynamite — who came second to Prince of Penzance two years ago — has been training the house down ahead of the Cup.
When pressed, Jordon said that the Hughie Morrison-trained Marmelo and Max Dynamite had looked the best of the international contingent.
“[Max Dynamite] has been working very well,” Jordon said.
“It’s probably one of the best Cups (fields) you’ll see.”
German trainer Andreas Wohler, who won the race with Protectionist back in 2014, was downbeat about Red Cardinal’s chances after the six-year-old gelding drew the outside barrier 24.
“It’s not the draw you would have wanted for him,” Wohler said of his horse that was an early favourite for this year’s Cup before running fifth to Marmelo in the Prix Kergorlay in France — a race that has been won by Americain (2010) and Protectionist (2014) before winning at Flemington.
“But one has won from that draw, and we’ve got the right jockey for that.”
Jockey Kerrin McEvoy rode Brew to victory from the outside (barrier 22 with 22 starters) in 2000, and he will be aboard Red Cardinal today.
“I think he runs well out of a break … but I think he’ll have to pass two bad things [to win the Cup] — not having a prep run, the last one [to do it] was [Vintage Crop] in 1993, and the outside barrier,” Wohler said.
– ABC News