The first of the three big spring races is just around the corner. In the G1 Caulfield Cup (2400 m) on Saturday, the starter with a capacity field of 18 players stands before the start.
With that in mind, by the time the race starts at 5:15 p.m. (AEDT), we could see a little give in the ground.
The rail will be in the true position after being down 10m for the Blue Sapphire meet on Wednesday.
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1. ANTHONY VAN DYCK
A win against superstar Stradivarius at the last start obviously reads well and it was certainly no coincidence. The gallop, trained by Aidan O’Brien, won the G1 Epsom Derby on this trip, defeated Japan and placed 2nd in the world’s best racehorse (according to Longines’ ranking) Ghaiyyath in the G1 Coronation Cup (2414 m) in Newmarket Three-Back. The parking lot toss means it will likely roll forward in a race that is unlikely to burn early. One blow to him, apart from the 58.5 kg, is the fact that he was beaten with 14 L in the last race outside Europe. His class is evident – it just depends on whether he can bring his best form to Australia. He probably doesn’t want too much rain, but a worse surface than a Soft 6 seems pretty unlikely.
The Godolphin gelding is not the same horse we saw a couple of preps ago, but his form this campaign has been fine over good stretches. On his resumption, he was clearly the top closer in the G2 Chelmford Stakes (1,600m) before making no impact in the G1 George Main Stakes on the same trip. Though he was no match for Kolding, his 2nd place finish in the G2 Hill Stakes (2000m) was solid for this extended trip as fourth. His chances would increase significantly on a wet track (requires soft 6), but his G1 record in Melbourne is a real problem (7: 0-0-0).
TAB odds: 26
3. Vows and declaration
Vow And Declare finished second in the race last year at 52.5kg before winning the Melbourne Cup. He’s climbing to 57kg this year and his form is nowhere near as strong. The gelding, trained by O’Brien, has not been placed in four races since the G1 Australian Cup (2000m), and although he was only beaten 2.8L at the last start in the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m), others were here much better than him.
TAB odds: 34
Buckhurst’s last pair don’t look too good on paper, but they weighed 63.5kg the last time they started and were given a task after sitting back well. Previously, he spun his wheels on a wet track in the Curragh. If you judge him by his 1.5 liter win over Sir Dragonet three starts back, he must be seen as some kind of hope. His only place on this trip came behind Norway, which didn’t show much for Chris Waller in Australia.
TAB odds: 11
5. MIRAGE DANCERS
Mirage Dancer took 3rd place (56kg) at this event last year for a $ 16 chance. He’s mixed up his form a bit since then, but did his best to knock out the G1 Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick at the last start. A brilliant Nash Rawiller handlebar certainly helped his cause there, but he still had a lot to pull off to outperform the promising Mugatoo. He processes all surfaces and is well weighted in them. A repeat of last year’s run would get him to the finish line and his $ 26 quote looks over.
TAB odds: 17
This Australian Bloodstock import did very well in this race last year and came in 6th from outside the midfield, beaten 1.8L. In the fall he reached first place in Sydney and finished second in the G1 Tancred Stakes (2400 m) ahead of Verry Elleegant (albeit a distant second place). His form since his resumption looks very average on paper, but he wasn’t embarrassed at the last start at The Metrop at 58kg. Rain could improve monster rates.
TAB odds: 71
7. VERY ELLEEGANT
This mare was brilliant in Sydney in the fall and has carried this shape through the spring. The former Kiwi beat the G1 Winx Stakes (1,400m) and defeated Fierce Impact, who won the G1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1,600m) on his next start before encountering some traffic problems at the G1 George Main Stakes (1,600m). She atone for this unplaced effort by winning the last start of the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000 m). The lead there was narrow, but she traveled a long way on a solid deck and was definitely there to be beaten over the last 100 meters. The chances of rain falling on Saturday are huge and if the track is a soft 5 or worse then this is the one to beat.
TAB odds: 5
8. DASHING WILLOUGHBY
This Andrew Balding-trained raider won this trip well with three wins before comfortably beating the G3 Henry II Stakes (3,264m). Cross Counter was in third place with 12.3 liters. At the last start of the G2 Lonsdale Cup (3270 m) he took a good 4th place, but was only 2.5 l behind the brilliant stayer Enbihaar. He should be able to make the most of barrier two, with the margin for a race without a natural pacemaker.
TAB odds: 26
Finche had a tough run in this race last year but fought well for fifth place and hit 1.6L. He was out of the picture for over 300 days after finishing seventh in the Melbourne Cup, but he certainly hasn’t lost anything during the break due to his form this season. The import of Waller continued with a third place finish near the G2 Chelmsford Stakes (1,600 m) before failing in just three directions at the last start of the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2,000 m). He’ll pull off a lot fitter and he shouldn’t have any problems getting one-off or leading if Lane sends him forward from his middle draw.
TAB odds: 11
10. PRINCE OF ARRAN
The popular veteran had a brilliant spring in Melbourne last year, winning the G3 Geelong Cup (2400m) en route to another Melbourne Cup placement. He was flogged with two backs in the G1 Gold Cup (4014 m), but warmed up pretty late in order to achieve a distant 3rd place over this distance at the last start. The Melbourne Cup is obviously his target race again, but it did well in G2 Herbert Power over this distance / distance when he was in Australia for the first time last year. The toss likely means he will be ridden forward.
TAB odds: 17
11. MASTER OF WINE
Master Of Wine made rapid progress in the fall, finishing his campaign fourth behind Addeybb in the G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m). Unsurprisingly, he hit the spring with big wraps, but his first appearance in the G1 Winx Stakes (1400m) was overwhelming. He was better second in the G1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1,600 m) – better, not brilliant – before working well for fifth place on the last start at the Turnbull (2,000 m). Verry Elleegant beat him home by 0.8L there, but he hits her better with weights at 2.5kg. Barrier Seven looks perfect to him with Williams pilot.
TAB odds: 8
12. THE SELECTED
This kiwi stalker faced a major campaign when he impressively won the 1700m in Flemington first. However, his two runs have been bad since then – he finished the G2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400 m) last week with 5.05 l ahead of Chapada. The turn signals are coming back on, but it’s hard to see he’s a factor here.
TAB odds: 71
Last year’s winner of the Victoria Derby (2500 m) has not welcomed the judge in eight races since then. He was a little disappointing in Sydney, but both of his efforts in that campaign were encouraging. The Freedman gelding worked well home in the G1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600 m) without any threat before he caught the eye with a quick 6th place in the Turnbull. He drove the fastest last 600m / 400m / 200m split times and seems to be screaming for this trip. However, the very big draw means that he will give his rivals a big start here.
TAB odds: 21
He is a very real SA galopper who was only eliminated from the placements six times in his 19 starts. Two of those unplaced runs were on his last pair, but he was just 1.9L away in the G1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1,600m) and 0.3L ahead of Verry Elleegant in the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2,000m) at the last start . Another jockey for this horse, Pike can follow Finche for a place in the top three of four.
TAB odds: 15
15. TRUE SELF
The OTI mare did well in Australia last spring and finished 2nd in the G3 Geelong Cup (2400 m) ahead of Prince Of Arran, before gently defeating the G3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600 m). Her form has been average since then but she has run some pretty hot races. Her last start at the Ebor looks awful on paper, but she completely bombed the start there so it’s worth forgiving the lead. It maps well from barrier four.
TAB odds: 34
Aktau won his way into that race via the Mornington Cup (2400m) earlier in the year, but his two efforts since his resumption have been very disappointing. The Moroney gelding was knocked out of sight in the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) and pulled up with no apparent problem. It’s pretty hard to recommend.
17. TOFFEE TONGUE
The Waller mare only won 1 out of 12, but that was a G1 race (the SA Oaks) and she placed in the G1 ATC Oaks (2400 m) and the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000 m). She surprised more than a few with her stake at Turnbull as a $ 71 hope and sprinted hard late to take Verry Elleegant’s head off. She drops to just 51kg and is definitely entitled to repeat what she did at the last start. She should enjoy a frugal run around midfield of barrier five.
TAB odds: 13
This Moroney gelding raced alright through the winter without setting the world on fire. Lord Belvedere had his measure a few times and Sasko and Sin to Win beat him home in the Listed Banjo Paterson Series Final (2600m). However, a small 77-day break really triggered something in the 5YO. With his two runs, this preparation is way above what we saw in the last campaign. While he won the G2 Herbert Power (2400 m) last Saturday in a visually impressive way, this form may not be the right one this year.
TAB odds: 21
19. Raheen House – It’s not going well enough and will likely have a different zip code than the draw.
20. San Huberto – The OTI import is a listed winner of this trip and a G2 winner over 3000 m. He shows he remains promising, but he might find this a bit spicy first in Australia.
21. Oceanex – The mare, trained by Price and Kent, only managed to get a handful of runners home in three races in this preparation.
22. The gift of life – Freedman import that was supposed to win races in Australia – but not this one.
This article originally appeared on punters.com.au and has been reproduced with permission
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