Heading back to the track of his greatest win at Flemington will boost the chances of Almandin in Saturday’s Group 1 $1.5m Australian Cup (2000m).
Almandin is a three times winner at Flemington with his most famous win being the 2016 Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) but all his wins there have been beyond the 2000m of the Australian Cup.
Three times Melbourne Cup winning jockey Damien Oliver is fresh off a Group 1 win last Saturday on the Mick Price trained Grunt in the $1m Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington and will be aboard Almandin in the Australian Cup this weekend.
Oliver has ridden Almandin in six of his last nine starts but missed the Melbourne Cup win when Kerrin McEvoy steered him to victory in the famous two mile race on the first Tuesday in November.
Oliver had the mount when Almandin resumed with 60kg on his back for a second to imported stablemate Homesman in the Listed $120,000 Ladbrokes Mornington Cup Prelude over 2000m at Caulfield on February 24 and was happy with the run.
“He was a good run first up. It would have been nice if he could have overhauled the stablemate, but Flemington will suit the horse better,” Oliver said on Radio TAB’s Past The Post on Sunday.
“He’s getting a little bit older and I think the team might be toying with putting some blinkers on the horse, so it will be interesting to see if they go that way.
“Being at Flemington is really going to help and he’s going to be in there with a terrific chance.”
Almandin is on the third line of betting at $8 for the Australian Cup with his stablemate The Taj Mahal at Ladbrokes.com.au.
The Darren Weir trained Gailo Chop heads up the Australian Cup betting at $3.20 in front of the gallant mare Single Gaze at $7.50 while Hartnell and Prized Icon are well in contention at $11.
Gailo Chop is racing in outstanding form with two wins at Caulfield from two starts this preparation in the Group 3 $150,000 Ladbrokes TS Carlyon Cup (1600m) on February 10 and in the Group 2 $200,000 Carlton Draught Peter Young Stakes (1800m) two weeks later.
Early betting for the 2018 Australian Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.20 Gailo Chop, $7.50 Single Gaze, $8 Almandin, The Taj Mahal, $11 Hartnell, Prized Icon, $13 Homesman, $15 Abbey Marie, Ambitious, Johannes Vermeer, $21 Devise, Harlem, Main Stage, Ventura Storm $26 Lord Fandango, $34 or better the rest.