Junoob has been backed into 2014 Caulfield Cup odds of $10 and has been one of the well-supported runners in betting markets for the Group 1 event that will be held at Caulfield this afternoon.
Junoob opened at a quote of $13 in Caulfield Cup betting markets and was wound out to $14 after faring poorly at the barrier draw on Tuesday afternoon, but there has been a stream of consistent support for the tough gelding in the past 24 hours and he is now rated by punters as the clear standout of the four Chris Waller-trained horses in the Group 1 event.
Waller said earlier in the week that he was worried about the poor Caulfield Cup barrier draw for Junoob, but is delighted that leading Hong Kong-based jockey Douglas Whyte will take the ride on the Haafhd gelding.
Whyte has been the champion jockey in Hong Kong on 13 occasions, but does not have a great deal of experience in Australia and will be riding in the Caulfield Cup for the first time.
The leading hoop admits that he is concerned about barrier 15 for Junoob, but rates The Metropolitan winner a genuine chance of recording back-to-back wins and he told TVN that he is thrilled to have an opportunity to ride in the Caulfield Cup.
“I’m riding for the in-form stable. Chris Waller is flying and it is a privilege to be on a horse for him. I’m happy to get a call up,” he said.
“I’ve watched Junoob’s past two runs and they have been strong dour efforts.
“I think his last run in particular was a fantastic effort; he worked from the 800m out, he was three deep and he could have thrown in the towel, but he kept fighting.
“It is a pity about the gate, but hopefully we can overcome those circumstances.
“He looks to be an on pace runner and I’ll obviously have a chat to Chris tomorrow, but from the gate I’d like to be positive from there.
“It would be a dream come true if I could win.
“The Caulfield Cup, Melbourne Cup and Japan Cup’s, they are all significant races on any jockeys agenda.”
Whyte has not ridden in Australia since he was one of the star attractions at the Super Saturday Meeting at Perth in November last year and has not ridden in a Group 1 event in Melbourne since he finished third on Cape Of Good Hope in the 2006 edition of the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m).
The South African remains committed to riding in Hong Kong, but he said that he was always willing to make the trip to Australia to ride at the highest level when given the opportunity.
“I’m a jock with a saddle and I’ll always travel,” Whyte said.
“I’m still competitive, just because I’m in Hong Kong doesn’t mean I wouldn’t put my hand up at anytime.
“Having been in Hong Kong for a long time my opportunities are a lot less, but because feature races in Australia are on a Saturday it makes me available as we don’t have to ride until Sunday in Hong Kong.
“I will always come for a request if I was needed or asked I’d definitely be here.”
Lucia Valentina ($4.20) remains a clear favourite in 2014 Caulfield Cup betting markets from Lidari ($9), Brambles ($9), Admire Rakti ($10) and Junoob ($10).