Melbourne Cup: Anderson Q&A
Shane Anderson from RSN - Racing and Sport - answers our Emirates Melbourne Cup questions.
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sportinglife: What do you make of the decision to jock Gerald Mosse off Americain and replace him with Damien Oliver?
Shane Anderson: Personally, I find it a strange decision as Mosse is a proven international superstar jockey. He has won a Group One race in virtually every major racing jurisdiction. The owners have been somewhat outspoken over the past twelve months regarding Mosse. The horse spent a brief period in Australia trained by David Hayes and things didn't play out as successfully as they had hoped. Mosse's ride aboard Americain in the Group One BMW at Rosehill in April was severely criticised by sections of the racing media - his connections actually said after that ride that Mosse would never be on the horse again! So, in many ways, it was a surprise that Mosse was on the horse again in the Caulfield Cup. In my opinion, Americain has an inflated status in Australia due to him winning the 150th Emirates Melbourne Cup. He is a grand stayer but he has a racing style that makes him a difficult ride, he hits a flat spot in his races which, especially when up in the handicap, makes it hard for him under Australia's stop-start racing tempo which we often have in feature staying races. Damien Oliver is in form - he won the Victoria Derby this weekend - and knows what it takes to win a Melbourne Cup.
sportinglife: Americain seemingly ran a nice prep race at Caulfield, do you think he can turn the tables on Dunaden?
SA: At the weights, yes he probably can. History says that it is very hard to win a Melbourne Cup so high in the weights - Makybe Diva won her third Melbourne Cup with 58kg, and you had to go back to 1975 when Think Big won his second Cup with 58.5kg. So both Americain and Dunaden are going into rare territory if they can be successful. Americain ran so well for 4th in the race last year with the same weight but this year's renewal looks even stronger. So, you have to question whether he has improved enough - and he is now an 8yo - to win the race? I think he will run well, but I just can't see him winning. Dunaden, however, gets up to 59kg but he has proven himself to be a truly international star at 2400m and beyond in the past 12 months. And based on what he did in the Caulfield Cup, he looks to be still on an upward spiral. I think he will beat Americain home again as I think he is a superior racehorse.
sportinglife: Dunaden defied the stats to win the Caulfield Cup, can he do so again and win back-to-back Melbourne Cups?
SA: Dunaden has already proven himself a history maker so there is no reason to suggest that he can't win back-to-back Melbourne Cups. In three starts in Australia, he has won the Geelong Cup, Melbourne Cup and Caulfield Cup which is remarkable. But the key ingredient for me is that in the past year he has tackled some of the elite horses at 2400m and more than held his own. His win in the Kong Kong International Vase was outstanding, and he has carried that form well all season in Europe. The form around him continually stands up. He travels so sweetly in the run, it will all come down to being within striking distance to allow his powerful sprint to bring him into contention at the right moment, ideally being produced with 200m to run. His jockey, Craig Williams, has ridden successfully all over the world and believes that Dunaden is so special that he can overcome any obstacle. He has also been heavily supported in the final 24 hours before the Cup, and that is always a solid indicator.
sportinglife: Glencadam Gold was favourite at Caulfield but flopped, can he bounce back?
SA: Personally, I don't think he is good enough. He has also been under a minor injury cloud. Glencadam Gold was due to have his final preparation run at Flemington on Derby Day but had heat in one of his legs mid last week and was scratched. He is an on speed runner but I think that the handicapper has caught up to him, and I also doubt whether he will get the trip. I am a huge fan of his young jockey, Tommy Berry, but find it interesting that Gai Waterhouse didn't think he was ready for the pressure of the Caulfield Cup yet has now booked him for the Melbourne Cup, a race that arguably provides more pressure on a jockey than any other in the world.
sportinglife: What do you make of Luca Cumani's decision not to give Mount Athos a prep race?
SA: Luca Cumani is one of the greatest trainers in the history of the sport with success in all regions of the world. If he thinks Mount Athos does not require a prep run, then Mount Athos doesn't require a prep run. Luca has come so close to winning a Melbourne Cup, with Purple Moon and Bauer both finishing runner up, and horses like Manighar and Mad Rush proving competitive. He has a good bench mark to work from. Mount Athos has produced some of his best performances on the big, flatter tracks in the UK such as York, which suggests that he will be well suited by Flemington.
sportinglife: No Cup day would be complete without a Bart Cummings-trained runner in the line-up, how do you rate the chances of Precedence and Sanagas?
SA: Bart has won 12 Melbourne Cups in a 50 year period, which is one of the great sporting achievements anywhere in history. It will be tough for him this year. Precedence has tried racing at Group One level many times but always comes up short, yet he is a genuine handicapper. He pulled terribly hard in last year's Melbourne Cup and raced on speed, out of his comfort zone. He was still only beaten 6 lengths behind Dunaden. His form this campaign has been solid and he was poorly ridden last start in the Moonee Valley Cup. He will be ridden by Blake Shinn, who combined with Bart to win the 2008 Cup with Viewed. I think that drawing barrier 20 will be advantageous as it means the horse will be ridden cold early, to try and find cover. Don't think he can win but it wouldn't surprise me if he ran top 8. Sanagas is more interesting. He was purchased by bloodstock group BC3 Thoroughbreds from the United States 12 months ago with the sole intention of running in the Melbourne Cup. His form in Germany and the US showed that he liked to get into a rhythm early in the race, not be bustled, and then gradually build his momentum. His four runs so far in Melbourne have been at Caulfield, which is not an ideal track for that type of racing pattern. There is a sense of timing about his prospects and I think it is significant that one of the best Flemington jockeys, Nick Hall, has the ride. He could be the one to provide an upset.
sportinglife: Has the draw put paid to Red Cadeaux's chances?
SA: I actually think that the draw in the Emirates Melbourne Cup is overplayed, especially after it has become a truly international race. In days of old, when the make up of the race was of Australian and New Zealand horses, the draw mattered more as it would play to the strengths of those who could ride tight, and save ground. With so many European horses in the race, and with the way that Flemington has been recambered (track was reconfigured in 2005), the complexion of the race has changed. You can cover ground and be competitive. Ed Dunlop has told all that he wants Red Cadeaux ridden identically to last year bar being presented to win so early, he wants Michael Rodd to wait for his final run just a fraction later. He is a big striding horse who should be able to settle just shy of midfield, likely with a trail either two or three wide. He'll get his chance from there - his form this season has been significantly better than last year and he has long been aimed at this race.
sportinglife: How do you see the race panning out tactically and are there any particular horses likely to get the run of things?
SA: The tempo of this year's Cup looks very solid. I can see Glencadam Gold, Voila Ici and Mourayan all likely to be pushing the pace from the outset, with Mount Athos, Sanagas, Ethiopia, Fiorente, Green Moon and My Quest For Peace all holding a position from their lower draws. Dunaden, Americain, Red Cadeaux and Galileo's Choice will all be given their chance to relax early, all likely worse than midfield in the early stages. I really do think that Mount Athos could be in the prime position in the run, likely no worse than two wide and in the first half of the field. It will then be up to Ryan Moore to time his run to perfection.
sportinglife: Who's your idea of the best roughie?
SA: Good question! I have actually found this year's Melbourne Cup the hardest race to work out. It is clearly the strongest renewal of the Cup in the modern era, we are likely to have relatively firm ground, and we have converging formlines from so many regions of the world - a real mixture of top class handicapping and WFA form. I have tried to cull the field of 24 down to actual winning chances, which I have as: Dunaden, Red Cadeaux, Mount Athos, Ethiopia, Galileo's Choice, Green Moon, Maluckyday, Mourayan and My Quest For Peace. Of those, Mourayan looks the best at a price. He will relish the 3200m, he is in great form, excels on big tracks, gets massive weight relief, and will be ridden by one of the best jockeys we have in Hugh Bowman. Hugh never rides as low as 53.5kg so it is most significant that he has gotten down to that level. Plus, Mourayan is owned by Lloyd Williams who runs Australia's biggest private stable and has already had three Melbourne Cup winners - Just A Dash, What A Nuisance and Efficient. He knows what it takes. But from the omen angle, when What A Nuisance won the 1985 Melbourne Cup, the VRC had as its special guest Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Prince Charles will be a special guest this year with the Duchess Of Cornwall. Could lightning strike twice?
sportinglife: Is it going to be a home win or is the Cup going back to Europe?
SA: I think the Europeans will take the Cup again and this time it is Luca Cumani's turn. Mount Athos has been outstanding in three runs for Luca and looks so well handicapped. He has travelled to Australia well, gets the services of the brilliant Ryan Moore, and should relish racing at Flemington on what is likely ideal firm ground. I think that Dermot Weld's Galileo's Choice will be the main danger. Dermot has won two Cups and there are similarities between Galileo's Choice and past winners Vintage Crop and Media Puzzle. He can stay but also has tactical speed when needed. The form around Dunaden and Red Cadeaux, last years 1-2, has proven so reliable. Dunaden won the Caulfield Cup in dominant style despite the top weight and has thrived since. As there was only a breath between them both last year, if Dunaden goes in then so must Red Cadeaux, who has really impressed all who have seen him when working since arriving in Melbourne. He looks a better prospect than when compared to last year.