First emergency De Little Engine has gained a start in the field for the Group 1 $3m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on Saturday following the scratching of New Zealand mare Fanatic.
Te Awamutu trainer Graeme Sanders was forced to scratch the $101 outsider after he found her this morning with swelling to her leg and what appeared to be a spider bite.
“Dad (co-trainer Graeme Sanders) rang me and they seem to think the mare has been bitten by a spider – there’s a puncture wound there and her leg was swollen and tender,” co-trainer Debbie Sweeney told racing.com.
“Just in case, she has been scanned but nothing else has showed up. It’s the last thing you would ever expect to happen.”
The scratching of Fanatic paved the way for the Danny O’Brien trained De Little Engine to take his place in the eighteen horse field giving apprentice rider Ben Thompson a great thrill to have a Caulfield Cup ride.
“I was riding in the jumpouts at Seymour and one of the barrier boys said to me my horse got a start in the Caulfield Cup,” Thompson said.
“I thought he was geeing me up, I said don’t muck around and make jokes about something like that.
“He laughed and said ‘No, Fanatic has been scratched and De Little Engine is now in the field’.
“I couldn’t believe it, I’m still pinching myself.”
De Little Engine has now been scratched from the Group 3 $150,000 Priceline Pharmacy Coogny Cup (2000m) and even though the Encosta De Lago six year old is also one of the outsiders of the Caulfield Cup field at $61, O’Brien is not ruling out an upset.
“We are happy to run in the Caulfield Cup, the horse worked strongly on Tuesday morning and might surprise a few people,” O’Brien said.
It has been almost twelve months since De Little Engine has found the winner’s stall when he took out the $100,000 J.B. Cummings AM Tribute Plate (2800m) at Flemington on Melbourne Cup last year and goes into the Caulfield Cup on the back of a last start seventh to Hartnell in the Group 1 $500,000 Yellowglen Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 2.
The Ciaron Maher trained Jameka sits at the top of the Caulfield Cup market order at $3.60 with Ladbrokes.com.au ahead of Godolphin’s English stayer Scottish at $7.50, the Darren Weir trained Real Love at $8 and German raider Articus at $9.
Market order for the Caulfield Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.60 Jameka, $7.50 Scottish, $8 Real Love, $9 Articus, $11 Exospheric, $12 Sir Isaac Newton, $15 Sir John Hawkwood, $18 Tally, $21 Sacred Master, $26 Preferment, Tarzino, Our Ivanhowe, $34 Set Square, $51 Pemberley, $61 Almoonqith, De Little Engine, $71 Big Money, $81 Go Dreaming, $201 Vengeur Masque.