A long list of Caulfield Cup hopefuls will line up in the Group 3 $150,000 Bendigo Bank East Malvern MRC Foundation Cup (Naturalism Stakes) (2000m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
The Naturalism Stakes has attracted a full field of sixteen and the winner will be exempt from the ballot for the Group 1 $3.15m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on October 21.
Amelie’s Star and Abbey Marie, both with light weights in the Caulfield Cup, are two runners that will be able to take full advantage of the ballot free clause for the 2400m feature staying race.
On the other hand the James Cummings trained Tally is guaranteed a start in the Caulfield Cup, being third in the order of entry with 54kg, and the head Godolphin trainer is hoping to see the Street Cry gelding put himself into calculations with a solid effort in the Naturalism Stakes.
“I’m really pleased with the way he’s returned with two slashing runs. The 2000m at this stage should be perfect,” Cummings said.
“Importantly, he’s going to be very fit after this for the 2500m of the Bart Cummings in a couple of weeks.”
Tally has drawn barrier two in the Naturalism Stakes with Michael Walker booked to ride.
Tally has had two runs back from a spell and Cummings has been steadily stepping him up in distance and expects him to be in the money over the 2000m of the Naturalism Stakes after running second first up in a 1400m Handicap at Flemington on August followed by a fourth in the Listed $120,000 Dream Thoroughbred Heatherlie Stakes (1700m) at Caulfield on September 2.
Cummings has selected the Group 3 $300,000 The Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington on October 7 as a lead up to the Caulfield Cup for Tally.
The further they go the better for Tally who finished third in the 2016 Group 1 $2m BMW Australian Derby at Randwick over 2400m as well as winning the Listed $300,000 Ladbrokes Mornington Cup over 2400m at Mornington in March.
Tally was given his chance in last year’s Caulfield Cup but was a well beaten twelfth behind the Ciaron Maher trained Jameka.
Victoria’s leading trained Darren Weir will saddle up three runners in the Naturalism, Big Duke, Articus and Amelie’s Star, with mixed results at the barrier draw.
Articus with Brad Rawiller to ride had the best result with barrier three, John Allen’s mount Big Duke came up with gate ten while Damian Lane has plenty of work to do from gate fourteen on Amelie’s Star.