Victoria’s leading trainer Darren Weir has selected last year’s winner Almandin as the horse to beat again in the 2017 Group 1 $6.25m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday.
Weir will saddle up the $10 chance Humidor as he chases a second Melbourne Cup victory after $101 outsider Prince Of Penzance scored an upset win in 2015.
Humidor has drawn barrier thirteen with Blake Shinn is the saddle again while Almandin will jump from beside him at gate fourteen with top European jockey Frankie Dettori taking the mount.
“I think Almandin is the horse to beat,” Weir told the Herald Sun.
“But I am happy with my horse and the draws could have been worse.”
Humidor will be stepping up the 32000m for the first time in the Melbourne Cup while Almandin is a proven two miler with his win over Heartbreak City in last year‘s Cup.
Weir can see the 3200m as an unknown for Humidor who has his share of weight at 56kg although Almandin is set to carry 0.5kg more.
“I reckon he has got enough weight (56kg) though, and the trip (3200m) is a little concern,” Weir said.
Humidor and Almandin have taken different paths leading up to the Melbourne Cup with Weir giving his five year old a tough Group 1 campaign while Robert Hickmott has brought Almandin to fitness through the lower grades.
Weir rounded off Humidor’s Melbourne Cup campaign with a second to Winx in the Group 1 $3m Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley on October 28 while Hickmott was putting the miles into Almandin’s legs with a last start fourth to Amelie’s Star in the Group 3 $300,000 The Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington on October 7.
“They need those runs (chasing Winx) to toughen them up for a two-mile race, because it will be a hard run race on Tuesday,” Weir said.
“If all the horses get even luck and turn up on the day, I guess Humidor has got the best formline (second to Winx in the Cox Plate),” Weir said.
“He is going really well.”
Weir will also saddle up Amelie’s Star ($18) and Big Duke ($19) in the 2017 Melbourne Cup.
Amelie’s Star has drawn barrier ten with Dean Yendall in the saddle while Big Duke will jump from gate five with Brenton Avdulla booked to ride.
Almandin is a drifting second favourite for the Melbourne Cup at $9 behind the well supported English stayer Marmelo who currently sits at the top of the market order at $8 with Ladbrokes.com.au.