The 2015 Caulfield Cup form guide will be vital ready for punters right around in the lead-up to the Group 1 event at Caulfield this weekend.
The Caulfield Cup has drawn a typically strong field of stayers and there are different form lines from Australia, New Zealand, The United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan, which makes this an extremely intriguing race.
Our team of horse racing experts have complied a comprehensive 2015 Caulfield Cup form guide that has all the information that you need to know about all 18 horses set to contest the $3 million race.
The 2015 Caulfield Cup field will not be officially confirmed until tomorrow, but there is not expected to be any scratchings ahead of the Group 1 event and all 18 runners are to take their place in the field.
The 2014 edition of the Caulfield Cup was ravaged by late withdrawals and all four emergencies earnt a start in the race, but unfortunately for the connections of Quest For More, Complacent, Dibayani and Magic Hurricane that is now extremely unlikely to happen in 2015.
Mongolian Khan is currently available at 2015 Caulfield Cup odds of $4.80 and he remains a dominant favourite to record his third win at Group 1 level from Snow Sky ($9), Hauraki ($9), Fame Game ($10), Rising Romance ($10), Set Square ($10) and Complacent ($13).
There has been a sprinkling of support in Caulfield Cup betting markets for Who Shot Thebarman ($31 into $26) and Quest For More ($61 out to $51), while Protectionist ($41 out to $51), Grand Marshal ($41 out to $51), Royal Descent ($18 out to $21), Volkstok’n’barrell ($21 out to $26) and Set Square ($9 out to $10) have all been on the drift.
1. Protectionist (58kg)
Protectionist produced an outstanding staying effort to take out the Melbourne Cup last year, but it is fair to say that he has been unable to reproduce that form. He finished down the track over unsuitable distances in the Tramway Stakes and the George Main Stakes before he ran another stinker in the Caulfield Cup. He obviously has the talent on his day, but he clearly isn’t at that level at the moment.
Trainer Kris Lees is happy with the physical condition of Protectionist, but he admits that the imported stayer needs to show something in the Caulfield Cup as he builds towards his Melbourne Cup defence.
He wouldn’t turn up in a Caulfield Cup unless they went at breakneck speed, but this will top him off nice for the Melbourne Cup,” Lees said.
“He is running in races that aren’t suitable for him over distances that are short of his best, but he still needs to step-up a bit in the Caulfield Cup.
“I just want to see him work up in a Caulfield Cup and give us some confidence heading towards the Melbourne Cup.”
2.Snow Sky (58kg)
Snow Sky has performed well at the highest level of racing since he made his racing debut and he was placed in the Ladbrokes St Leger Stakes as a three-year-old. He started his 2015 racing season with impressive wins in the Yorkshire Cup and the Hardwicke Stakes before he failed to fire in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes. The Hardwicke Stakes is always a strong form reference for both the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup and Snow Sky is the only international runner that will be able to settle right on the pace.
Leading hoop Damien Oliver has won the Caulfield Cup on four occasions and he believes that Snow Sky is capable of delivering him another win in the Group 1 event. “He’s a lovely horse, he is nice, relaxed and seems to have acclimatised really well.
“His fitness is great and his recovery was great after the gallop,” Oliver said.
“I think it’s all systems go going to next week.
“He’s a lovely horse to ride and he seems really uncomplicated.
“I couldn’t be happier with him.”
3. Fame Game (57kg)
Fame Game has not been seen at the races since he finished a close second behind Gold Ship in the Tenno Sho at Kyoto in May, but that form is some of the strongest in world race. He won the Copa Republic over 2500 metres in Tokyo at the end of last year and there is no doubt that he is a more talented horse than last year’s Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti. He will be very hard to beat in the Melbourne Cup, but you certainly can’t rule him out of this race.
Jockey Zac Purton has a big opinion of Fame Game, but he believes that the Japanese stayer may be too dour to win the Caulfield Cup,
“Unless they go at a ridiculous pace I can’t see him getting that warm,” Purton said.
“I think he will run a good race, but it depends on the tempo of the race.
“His style is to get back and we are going to need them to go hard.
“He is going to need a lot of things to fall into place.
“He is a really good horse and he may have the ability to win the Caulfield Cup and if the race is run to suit he is still going to get his chance.”
4. Our Ivanhowe (56kg)
Our Ivanhowe recorded two wins at Group 1 level in Germany and he was purchased by Team Freedman after he finished a more than credible sixth in the Japan Cup. He made a slow start to his Australian racing career in the RA Lee Stakes at Morphettville, but he found the line well in the Naturalism Stakes before he finished second in The Bart Cummings. Lee Freedman looks to now have a full understanding of this horse and based on his European form he is the best roughie in the 2015 Caulfield Cup.
Freedman has always said that the Melbourne Cup is the major 2015 Spring Racing Carnival for Our Ivanhowe, but he revealed yesterday that he would not be surprised if the import won the 2015 Caulfield Cup.
“His record at 2400 metres is pretty exceptional,” Freedman told Racing Ahead.
“He has had a good preparation towards the race.
“If he has any luck in the run, which is always important in a Caulfield Cup, then I think he will run very well.
“A win wouldn’t shock me by any stretch and he would need to get the right run in the race to be right in the finish, but I would be a little disappointed if he is not one of the horses to come out with a good finish and looking forward to going ahead to Flemington.”
5. Hokko Brave (55.5kg)
Hokko Brave is not rated on the same level as Fame Game and he has not recorded a race win since October of 2013, but he finished third in the Nikkei Sho in Nakayama in March and he was far from disgraced when sixth in the Tenno Sho. He looks to be better suited to the conditions of the Caulfield Cup than his Japanese rival and he is another galloper that represents some value at his current Caulfield Cup odds.
Jockey Craig Williams has chased the ride on Hokko Brave for over a year and he believes that the stayer has the talent to turn-the-tables on Fame Game and win the 2015 Caulfield Cup.
“He is a better horse and in their last two races together he has been the better horse, but my horse finished last in the and there was something wrong with my horse,” Williams said.
“In the Tenno Sho this year Fame Game was a great closer at set weights, but we look at a great closer at set weights and when you look back less than a length and a half back is Hokko Brave, who is going to be better treated at the handicap.”
6. Mongolian Khan (55.5kg)
Mongolian Khan is currently a clear favourite in 2015 Caulfield Cup betting markets. The Kiwi stayer completed the New Zealand Derby/Australian Derby double in the autumn and he has ticked over beautifully ahead of the Caulfield Cup. He started his campaign with promising efforts in the Makybe Diva Stakes and Underwood Stakes before he went straight to the top of Caulfield Cup betting with a fast-finishing third in the Caulfield Stakes last weekend. There is no doubting that Mongolian Khan is a deserving Caulfield Cup favourite, but is there any value at his current quote?
It is slightly unusual for a Caulfield Cup favourite to go into the race off a seven-day back-up, but trainer Murray Baker is confident that will not be an issue for Mongolian Khan and he is confident he will relish the step-up to 2400 metres,
“I think that he is ok on the back-up,” Baker said.
“He is a good, tough colt and he bounced through it, so there were no worries there.
“He certainly runs 2400 this guy.
“He has won two Derbies, so I think that it suits him better than 2000.”
7. Trip To Paris (55kg)
Trip To Paris is the stablemate of regular Australian visitor Red Cadeaux and his European form is arguably even stronger than his stablemate. Trip To Paris recorded the biggest win of his racing career when he outstayed his rivals in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and he finished a close third in the Goodwood Cup Set Square has not recorded a race win since she took out the Crown Oaks last year. Photo by: Sarah Ebbett before he produced a slightly flat effort in the Lonsdale Cup. The Champs Elysees appears to be a bit dour for the Caulfield Cup, but the stable knows what it takes to prepare a horse for a big race in Australia.
Travelling foreman Robin Trevor-Jones believes that Trip To Paris will need there to be plenty of early speed to win the Caulfield Cup, but he said that the Gold Cup winner is not in the race simply to make up the numbers.
“He is not a very big horse and to get around the track won’t really worry him, but the worrying bit would be if they to turn in an all-sprint,” Trevor-Jones told Sky Racing HQ.
“If we had a fair gallop the whole way through we would be perfectly ok, I wouldn’t want a very slow pace and then sprint around that bend and up the straight.
“He can race a little bit lazy, but he winds himself in to the race.”
8. Who Shot Thebarman (54.5kg)
Who Shot Thebarman is the first of three Chris Waller-trained horses in the Caulfield Cup field and he returns to the race after a flat 13th last year. The Sydney Cup runner-up returned to the races with a credible seventh in the Chelmsford Stakes and he managed to find the line fairly in the Hill Stakes and the Turnbull Stakes. The Kiwi stayer is going well and should finish in the top ten, but he will clearly be better suited by Flemington and 3200 metres.
Who Shot Thebarman was ridden forward in the early stages of the Caulfield Cup last year, but trainer Chris Waller said that he would like to see the seven-year-old ridden far more conservatively in this year’s race.
“Who Shot Thebarman has barrier 21 and he will just have to go back to the second half of the field and see where he can slot it,” Waller said.
“He needs to switch off and relax, he was ridden too close last year, he got fired up in the early stages of the race and he was soft in the finish.”
9. Grand Marshal (53.5kg)
History is against Grand Marshal as no Sydney Cup winner has ever gone on to win the Caulfield Cup in the same year. Grand Marshal was never able to get into the race in the Chelmsford Stakes, but he produced improved efforts over 2000 metres in both the Hill Stakes and Craven Plate. Grand Marshal is a grinding stayer and he doesn’t appear to have the acceleration that is required to win a Caulfield Cup.
Trainer Chris Waller is not particularly bullish about the Caulfield Cup chances of Grand Marshal, but he still expects the Sydney Cup winner to run a credible race as he builds towards the Melbourne Cup.
“Grand Marshal is going really well,” Waller said.
“2400 will suit him better.
“It is a tough Caulfield Cup though, but that is what he is going to be facing in the Melbourne Cup too.
“He will beat more hope than will beat him home and he is a chance of running in the top five.”
10. Royal Descent (53.5kg)
Royal Descent will step-up to 2400 metres for the first time since she finished fifth in the 2013 Caulfield Cup, but her chances took a blow when she was allocated a wide gate. The consistent mare finally returned to winning form when she took out the Warwick Stakes and she was only narrowly denied in the Chelmsford Stakes, George Main Stakes and Turnbull Stakes. She will need plenty of luck in running and she likely needs a softer track, but it is still tough to rule Royal Descent out of Caulfield Cup contention.
Glen Boss has been booked to partner Royal Descent in the Caulfield Cup and he believes that the daughter of Redoute’s Choice in a genuine winning chance in the $3.15 million event.
“I am really looking forward to riding her,” Boss said.
“I honestly think that she is flying at the moment.
“It took a really good horse to beat her at Flemington and we know how good Preferment is at Flemington.
“She has only had the one run at Caulfield over a mile and a half and she ran a brave fifth.
“She is probably going a lot better than what she was then, she is a bigger, stronger mare now and I think that she is racing terrific.”
11. Volkstok’n’barrell (53.5kg)
Volkstok’n’barrel won the Rosehill Guineas and was placed in both the Australian and New Zealand Derby in the autumn, but he has been unable to find that sort of form in the spring. The Kiwi galloper returned to the races with a sound seventh in the Memsie Stakes, but he found to beat home a runner in the Makybe Diva Stakes. He returned to a semblance of his best form in the Underwood Stakes, but he was very flat late in the Turnbull Stakes and on the back of that run it is tough to back him in the Caulfield Cup.
Trainer Donna Logan admits that Volkstok’n’barrell’s form does not read particularly well on paper, but she said that the Group 1 winner has not had a great deal of luck in running and can produced an improved performance in the Caulfield Cup.
“His runs look worse than they have been, hence we waited until the last minute to make the decision,” Logan told RSN.
“They have all been very consistent horses, I have just had a question mark about my guy coming in as a four-year-old against these seasoned weight-for-age horses, but on paper he has been a couple of lengths off them every time.
“We haven’t had the best of runs luckwise in terms of where we have ended up in the running and when you look at the form going through the previous races it is pretty strong.
“He is ready now and he is peaking at his best.”
12. Hauraki (53kg)
Hauraki has only recorded one win from his last eight starts, but he finished second behind Mongolian Khan in the Australian Derby. He started his spring preparation with a flat effort in the Tramway Stakes and he was slightly disappointing again in the George Main Stakes, but he stamped himself as a genuine Caulfield Cup contender with a close second behind Complacent in the Craven Plate. The Reset entire gives the impression that he will relish the step-up to 2400 metres and he is a deserving Caulfield Cup contender.
There have been claims that Hauraki does not handle the Melbourne way of going following two flat runs during the 2015 Melbourne Festival Of Racing, but jockey James McDonald does not believe that will be an issue in the Caulfield.
“The pots are out that he doesn’t handle the Melbourne way of going, but out of all the horses that I rode this morning he felt brilliant around that track,” McDonald said.
“He came through his gallop in flying colours, I was really wrapped with the way that he worked and he worked home strongly.”
13. Lucia Valentina (53kg)
Lucia Valentina started the 2014 edition of the Caulfield Cup as a clear favourite, but she is friendless in betting ahead of this year’s race. She has not recorded a race win since she took out the Turnbull Stakes last year and she missed the placings in the Tramway Stakes, George Main Stakes and Epsom Handicap. She does not appear to be the same horse that she was 12 months ago and she is tough to like on what is set to be a very firm track.
Trainer Kris Lees waited until Tuesday before he decided to run Lucia Valentina in the Caulfield Cup, but she did enough in her track work to convince him that she is worthy of another chance in the race.
“We were very pleased with her work,” Lees said.
“She worked with Set Square this morning over 1400 metres and it was a good solid gallop.
“Her recovery from really good and she appears in good enough order to take her place.
“It is going to be run under a true handicap scale and she drops back to 53, so it is the first time that she has dropped to that weight since last year’s Caulfield Cup.”
14. Rising Romance (53kg)
Rising Romance finished a very close second behind Admire Rakti in the Caulfield Cup last year and she has the chance to go one better in 2015. The Ekraar mare returned to racing with a good effort in the Memsie Stakes and she went to the top of Caulfield Cup betting following her second in the Makybe Diva Stakes, but she drifted after a flat effort in the Turnbull Stakes. She had a number of excuses for average performance in the Turnbull Stakes and if she replicates her Caulfield Cup effort from last year she will be tough to beat.
Co-trainer David Hayes is also confident that Rising Romance can return to her best form and he believes that jockey Damian Lane will not make the same mistakes that he made in the Turnbull Stakes.
“She drew 17 and got a poor ride from Damien,” Hayes told Sky Racing HQ.
“He won’t do it twice and he has a good barrier this time.
“Her form leading into that had her as favourite for the Caulfield Cup.
“It is a bit like Stay With Me – Dwayne in the lead-up race rode her poorly and got in a lot of trouble.
“Like Stay With Me, she has a good barrier and that accounts for a lot and will be a big turnaround.”
15. Magicool (52kg)
Magicool won the Queensland Derby in the winter, but he has been nothing short of awful this preparation. He was never able to get into the race when he resumed in the Memsie Stakes and you could say that exact same thing about his performances in the Makybe Diva Stakes, Underwood Stakes and Turnbull Stakes. He deserves to be the extreme outsider of the field and it is tough to see him running top 12.
The presence of Magicool in the 2015 Caulfield Cup field has been questioned by a variety of racing experts, but Racing Victoria Chief Handicapper Greg Carpenter was defensive about the overall quality of the field.
“It’s the strongest set of emergencies that we have ever seen in the Caulfield Cup, which is an indication of the strength of the 18 horses that have made the race,” Carpenter said.
“The overall depth and quality of the 18 runners is outstanding.”
16. Gust Of Wind (51kg)
Gust Of Wind upset Winx to take out the Australian Oaks in the autumn and she has performed well without winning in three race starts this preparation. The talented filly returned to the races with a ninth place finish in the Warwick Stakes and she found the line well in the Makybe Diva Stakes, but she was perhaps entitled to do better in the Turnbull Stakes.
Trainer John Sargent is happy with Gust Of Wind ahead of the Caulfield Cup, but he believes that the daughter of Darci Brahma will need plenty of luck in running to record a second win at the highest level of racing.
“She’d only be a realistic winning chance if she was midfield or a bit further back and gets a trouble-free run at them down the outside with a few others all through the middle,” Sargent said.
“If she gets stopped and started, and they walk and pull-up, I don’t think she can be, but if it’s the other way around, she could be because I know 2400m she’ll eat up.”
17. Set Square (51kg)
Set Square has not recorded a race win since she took out the Crown Oaks during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival, but she is still towards the top of Caulfield Cup betting. The Ciaron Maher-trained mare finished second behind Abidewithme in the Cape Grim Beef Plate and she was slightly disappointing in the Spring Is The Season Handicap, but she battled on bravely to finish third in the Turnbull Stakes. You can completely rule Set Square out of Caulfield Cup contention, but she does seem a touch under the odds at her current quote.
Set Square was allocated a wide draw at the 2015 Caulfield Cup barrier draw earlier in the week, but Maher does not believe that will be a problem for the talented mare and he feels jockey Kerrin McEvoy will have plenty of options in the early stages of the race.
“It is just more about getting her into a nice relaxing rhythm and I am sure Kerrin will know what to do from there,” Maher said.
“She can race anywhere really.
“She raced forward in the Turnbull and she can race back.”
18. Magnapal (50kg)
Magnapal is the fairy tale story in the 2015 Caulfield Cup field and he earnt his position in the race with his win in the Naturalism Stakes. The tough stayer started his preparation with a win at Sandown and he claimed a maiden black-type win in the Heatherlie Stakes before his gutsy Naturalism Stakes win. He was beaten in the JRA Cup and that form is nowhere near good enough to win a Caulfield Cup, but it would be good to see him run a big race for connections.
Trainer Terry O’Sullivan was simply thrilled to get Magnapal into the Caulfield Cup field and he is confident that his star stayer will run out a strong 2400 metres.
“He has always been a very good winded horse and a lovely relaxed horse,” O’Sullivan told Sky Racing Radio.
“We rode him pretty quiet in his early days and he relaxes really well in his races and that is pretty much the key to staying horses.
“We haven’t pushed him that hard, we tipped him out for a bit over three months and he has been really good since he came back.
“He is absolutely pain free and he has been racing that way.
“He has proved that he can run the mile and a half and we are pretty happy with him up to 2400 metres.
19. Quest For More (53.5kg)
Quest For More is the first emergency for the 2015 Caulfield Cup, but he will be ridden by Tommy Berry if he earns a start. Quest For More made his black-type racing debut with a win in the Northumberland Plate at Newbury in June and he earnt a trip to Australia when he finished second in the Goodwood Cup. He appears unlikely to earn a start and even if he does he appears a touch dour for the Caulfield Cup.
Tommy Berry is booked to ride Trip To Paris in the Caulfield Cup, but he will jump-off the Gold Cup winner to ride Quest For More if the English stayer earns a start and he clearly has a big opinion of the Goodwood Cup runner-up.
“The other day I basically rode him the whole way around just to do three quarter pace, but today he travelled and I am very happy with the way that he feels,” Berry said.
“He is covering the ground nice and he is pulling up well in his wind.
“He is fit enough if he gets a run in the Caulfield Cup and he will be competitive.”
20. Complacent (53kg)
Complacent has returned from a lengthy lay-off in outstanding form and it is a genuine shame that he is set to miss out on a place in the Caulfield Cup field. Complacent made his long-awaited return to racing in the Warwick Stakes and he had no luck, but he scored a massive upset win in the Chelmsford Stakes. He finished a brave third in the Hill Stakes and he returned to winning form in the Craven Plate. Complacent would be right in this race if he earnt a start.
Complacent could head to the Cox Plate next weekend, but trainer John O’Shea flagged the idea yesterday that he could pull Hauraki out of the Caulfield Cup to give Complacent a run if there was an initial scratching.
“We’ll give it some consideration over the next 24 hours, if that situation eventuates, we’ll have a look at the track,” O’Shea told racing.com.
“The thing about Hauraki is he loves that ground – the firmer the better for him – whereas Complacent’s probably just a little bit compromised on real firm ground.”
“The more we look at the race, it does look as though Complacent gets a good run.”
21. Dibayani (53kg)
Dibayani was transferred to Lindsay Park following a successful stint in Hong Kong and he has performed well in his three Australian race starts to date. Dibayani made his Australian racing debut with a third place finish in the P.B. Lawrence Stakes and he was third again in the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes, but he was slightly disappointing in the Underwood Stakes. He is set to run in the David Jones Cup tomorrow.
Co-trainer Tom Dabernig is disappointed that Dibayani has missed out on the Caulfield Cup, but he is confident that he can win the David Jones Cup.
“I think his form has been excellent,” Dabernig said.
“His first two runs he was right around the mark and even last start in the Underwood he was only beaten by about three and a half lengths.
“Out to 2000, I think he has a really good chance.”
22. Magic Hurricane (52.5kg)
Magic Hurricane received a 2.5 kilograms penalty from Racing Victoria Chief Handicapper Greg Carpenter, but that was not enough to get him into the Caulfield Cup field and his absence has led to speculation about whether The Metropolitan should be turned into a ballot-exempt race for the Caulfield Cup. Magic Hurricane outstayed his rivals in The Metropolitan and would be very well-placed in the Caulfield Cup, but he is no chance to get a run.
O’Shea believes that Magic Hurricane would have been a genuine chance to complete The Metropolitan/Caulfield Cup double, but he confirmed that the import would press on to the Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day.
“I think that the other two are two legitimate chances that would make the race very exciting if they were in it,” O’Shea said.
“It is just the way that it has worked out this year and it is no ones fault.
“He has a blistering turn-of-speed.
“The key for him is to go to the Mackinnon on Derby Day and I have always had in my head that he would make an Australian Cup horse, so we will give him a chance to run at the track and the distance.”