Australian Thoroughbred

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22/9/2017 Caulfield Cup berths put on the line at Caulfield

MRC Foundation Cup (registered as Naturalism Stakes) (Gr 3, 2000m) at Caulfield on Saturday, a
race which provides ballot exemption for next month’s Caulfield Cup (Gr 1, 2400m).
Sydney Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) placegetter Big Duke (Raven’s Pass), Group Two winner Amelie’s Star (Testa Rossa) and Group Three- winning German import Articus (Areion) are set to continue their respective spring preparations in the $150,000 race this weekend.
The Australian Bloodstock-raced Big Duke, who is rated an $9 chance for the
Foundation Cup with Ladbrokes, made rapid progress through the staying ranks last season, culminating with a victory in the ATC Chairman’s Handicap (Gr 2, 2600m) and a third in the Sydney Cup.
He has finished fifth over 1600 metres on each of his two starts so far this preparation and, though he is not yet at 100 per cent peak condition,Weir’s racing manager Jeremy Rogers is expecting a good run this
weekend back up in trip.
“He is going really well. He is probably still not 100 per cent there yet, but he is ticking over really nicely,” Rogers said.
Rogers said that the five-year-old could back up in The Metropolitan (Gr 1, 2400m) at Randwick next week, with the gelding currently due to carry 55 kilograms in the $750,000 Group One.
Thereafter, the Moonee Valley Gold Cup (Gr 2, 2500m) is likely to be his next major assignment on 28 October, and a big performance in that Group Two could pave the way for a Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) start.
Big Duke is currently 29th in the order of entry for the $6,250,000 Flemington feature on 7 November with a weight of 53.5 kilograms.
“After Saturday he may head up for The Metropolitan in Sydney next week. He will definitely like the extra trip this weekend, but hopefully he has got bigger fish to fry later in the spring,” Rogers said.
“We are back up to 2000 metres but we are not going there on Saturday expecting to win, but we expect him to run well again.
“We will probably look towards the Moonee Valley Cup, and if he were to go on and win that then obviously the Melbourne Cup becomes an option.”
Group Two-winning mare Amelie’s Star is slightly shorter in the betting for the Foundation Cup at $6.50 with Ladbrokes, and Rogers is also of the opinion that the six-year-old is the stable’s best chance in the
Group Three.
The daughter of Testa Rossa (Perugino) won the Queen Of The South Stakes (Gr 2, 1600m) on her third start for Weir at Morphettville in May having been transferred from Peter Moody, for whom she was successful in the Colin Stephen Quality Handicap (Gr 3, 2400m) two years ago.
She is drawn wide in barrier 14 in the 16-runner field this weekend, but Rogers is hopeful she can overcome that tricky berth and earn an automatic start in the Caulfield Cup, a race for which she is currently equal 62nd in the order of entry and due to carry 51 kilograms.
“She is in fantastic order. This has been one of her little targets early in the spring, we couldn't be happier with her really,” Rogers said.
“The barrier is a little bit awkward on Saturday, but hopefully Damian (Lane) can overcome that and she is by far our best chance.
“I’m really hoping that she can win on Saturday and cement her place in the Caulfield Cup.”
Rogers is less bullish about the chances of Articus ($11) in the Foundation Cup, though he expects the gelding to be suited by the return to a handicap having finished fifth in the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (Gr2, 1600m) at his most recent start.
“His first two starts have been over unsuitable distances, so he will appreciated the 2000 metres and getting back to handicap conditions,” Roger said.
“He probably needs to improve a little bit though. He is in The Metropolitan, but he would have to go really well on Saturday to be heading in that direction. I would think he will just stay in Melbourne this
Lindsay Park are also set to be well represented in the Foundation Cup this weekend, with four runners headed by the improving Group Three winner Samovare (Savabeel) ($8.50).
The former Western Australia-raced four-year-old ran out a taking winner of a Benchmark 84 (1600m) at Moonee Valley on 9 September and is bidding to follow the same path as Jameka (Myboycharlie), who
won the Group Three en route to Caulfield Cup success.
The daughter of Savabeel (Zabeel) is currently equal 77th in the order of entry for the Caulfield Cup on 21 October.
"I've been dying to get her out to this distance," co-trainer David Hayes told
"It's the Jameka path she's on and while I don't think we're as good as her, well not yet anyway, she's an emerging stayer and just looks like a real staying type to me.
"She gets her chance to win her way in and I suppose it's a bit of a fork in the road race as she'll either go the mares path or keep climbing if she can win this."
Samovare is joined in the Foundation Cup by Harlem (Champs Elysees) ($10), Harlow Gold (Tavistock) ($17) and Boom Time (Flying Spur) ($21), and Hayes said he found it difficult to split the three runners.
"I really can't split them. You could make a case for all of them,” Hayes said.
"Ideally you wouldn't run them all against each other but this free entry into the Caulfield Cup is hard to ignore as they all need to win to secure a spot."
Meanwhile, trainer Mike Moroney is also hoping he can get the six-year-old Vengeur Masque (Monsun) ($21) qualified for the Caulfield Cup.
The gelding has yet to win in nine starts for Moroney but ran eighth in the Caulfield Cup last season, though he will have to overcome a wide draw in barrier 11 to score for jockey Patrick Moloney on Saturday.
He is currently joint 77th in the order of entry for the Caulfield Cup and joint 81st for the Melbourne Cup, but his trainer believes he is an improved performer this time around.
"He spelled really well and he's come back really big and strong this time so he's finally matured," Moroney told
"We'd love to get him into a Melbourne Cup especially this spring as he's now matured and is at the right age. But first we're trying to get him into the Caulfield Cup and that hasn't been made easier by the barrier draw for this Saturday.
"He had to go right back last start and we have to ride him quiet again, which is going to make it tough for him but I'm really happy with the way he's going and if the race presents, he can certainly win it."
The Daniel Bowman-trained eight-year-old Magnapal (Magnus) ($26) won the Foundation Cup two years ago and, though does not hold any fancy entries for the upcoming spring carnival, his trainer is expecting him to run well following his return to form at Moonee Valley on 9 September.
"We're rapt with how he came through his last start," Bowman said referring to the gelding’s long neck victory over 2040 metres.
"He bounced out of that run like he had not gone around, so I'm really excited about Saturday.
"He's drawn a good gate (eight) and should land in a good spot and have a good chance."
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