The genius of triple Melbourne Cup winner Damien Oliver will be called upon to help Cluster take on a red hot field in the Group 1 $1m Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.
The Peter and Paul Snowden trained Cluster is one of the outsiders of the thirteen horse field and is listed as a $31 chance with Ladbrokes.com.au.
And the job ahead looks to be a mammoth task taking on the cream of Australia’s sprinting brigade in Lankan Rupee, Buffering, Chautauqua, Famous Seamus and Terravista as well as Europe’s best sprinter in Slade Power.
But the in-form Oliver will be keen to add another Melbourne Cup Carnival Group 1 winner to his resume after claiming a Group 1 winning double on Derby Day last Saturday.
Oliver drove the tough weight for age performer Happy Trails to a last stride win in the Group 1 $1m Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) then came out and repeated the result with narrow victory on the Chris Waller trained Preferment in the Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m).
The Hall Of Fame jockey also rode a winning double on Oaks Day at Flemington on Thursday with wins on the Kris Lees trained Onemorezeta in the Group 3 $200,000 Gucci Stakes (1100m) and Vain Queen for John Sadler in the Group 3 $200,000 G.H. Mumm Stakes (1100m).
Oliver will also be desperate to keep the winners flowing after being suspended for careless riding at the Oaks Day meeting and after riding on Saturday won’t be back in the saddle until November 18.
Peter and Paul Snowden only took over the training of Cluster mid-year and have visited the winner’s stall on three occasions with the four year old including a win two starts back in the in the Group 2 $200,000 Theo Marks Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill on September 13.
The Snowdens then tested Cluster in Group 1 company resulting in a fifth to Trust In A Gust in the Group 1 $400,000 Bendigo Bank East Malvern Sir Rupert Clarke Charity Cup (1400m) at Caulfield on September 28.
Following the Rupert Clark the father and son team decided to freshen up the Fastnet Rock stallion and bring him back in distance to the 1200m of the Darley Classic.
“We’re freshening him up and he’ll be ready to roll over 1200 metres on Darley Classic day,” co-trainer Paul Snowden told Racenet.
A win by Cluster would be one of the major upsets of the Carnival with the Mick Price trained Lankan Rupee back in winning form with a last start victory in the Group 1 $1m Sportingbet Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on October 24.
And the lightly raced Chautauqua is ready to explode into Group 1 company after two recent wins up the Flemington straight in the Group 3 $150,000 Bobby Lewis Quality (1200m) and the Group 2 $200,000 Gilgai Stakes (1200m).
And the appearance of Europe’s top sprinter Slade Power has really put plenty of depth into this year’s weight for age Darley Classic following his wins in the Group 1 £500,000 The Diamond Jubilee Stakes (6 furlongs) at Royal Ascot on June 21 and in the Group 1 £500,000 Darley July Cup (6 furlong) at Newmarket on July 12. .
Darley Classic market order: $2.30 Chautauqua, $5.50 Lankan Rupee, $6 Slade Power, $11 Terravista, $14 Buffering, $19 Rebel Dane, $21 Sidestep, Driefontein, Famous Seamus, $31 Moment Of Change, Cluster, Platelet, $51 Temple Of Boom.