GEELONG CUP - 2400m, Geelong R7
The Geelong Cup can prove a strong form reference for the Melbourne Cup, especially this century when it has often been used by travelling internationals having a lead-up run.
Media Puzzle won the double in 2002, as did Americain and Dunaden in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Zazzman, Bauer, Prince of Arran and Emissary have all won the Geelong Cup and gone on to be placed in the Melbourne Cup two weeks later.
First Immortal will jump the favourite this year, despite drawing wide again. This horse is all duck or no dinner when it comes to drawing a barrier – he has 15 of 16 here, had 16 of 16 last start, and in his three runs before that he drew barrier 1 twice and also 12 of 13.
First Immortal’s run in the Bart Cummings was simply outstanding. The 2500m start at Flemington is a cruel one for those drawing wide and pushing forward, and he was made to work four wide around the first turn and three wide the trip, mostly without cover. To then present all the way down the straight, and look the winner at the clock tower, was simply an enormous effort in defeat.
The Geelong 2400m start is more forgiving than the Flemington 1500m, so Jamie Kah will have time to get First Immortal a position, but she is hardly riding high on confidence having been below-par since her return from injury. Still, the impressive young stayer deserves to be favourite.
Five more horses out of the Bart Cummings are in the Geelong Cup field, but it’s hard to see any of them turning the tables on First Immortal given the run he had to endure. Ashrun drop 1.5kg’s into this, and finished better than anything else in the race, so is the best of them. He’s now third-up after a three year lay-off, but might actually need further than the 2400m.
Spanish Mission hasn’t won a race in Australia, but did run third in the 2021 Melbourne Cup and 2022 Australian Cup, so possess enough quality to be competitive. He comes through the Turnbull Stakes, where he was outclassed in being beaten five lengths, but we have just seen West Wind Blows and Gold Trip frank the form in the Caulfield Cup.
Magical Lagoon, King Frankel and Fancy Man bring Sydney form to the race. The latter two have been running in similar races to Bois D’Argent, who ran fourth in the Caulfield Cup at 100-1, so they do have some hope of being competitive on that. Magical Lagoon has had four runs in Australia since arriving, but has yet to show anything to recommend him.
Mr Waterville creates interest at a big price, one of five Chris Waller horse in the race. A winner up to 3400m in the UK, he had been building nicely enough this spring to start $12 in the Group 1 Metropolitan, but banged into fence while parading before that race, copped a bump at the start, and lost a shoe. If you forgive him for that, he’s in the race.
More Felons is having his first start in Australia, having been transferred to Chris Waller after having run in the Ebor Handicap in late August. A first-up international over this sort of distance is so often a recipe for success at this time of year in Melbourne, so he has to be taken seriously.
King Frankel and Sir Lucan will go forward from good draws, as will Fancy Man and possibly Mount Popa from out wide, so there should be enough speed in the race early to at least be an even tempo.
Selections: 1.First Immortal 2.Mr Waterville 3.Spanish Mission 4.Ashrun
* Odds Correct At Time Of Posting. Check Playup Website For Latest Odds