All-conquering trainer Chris Waller will head to Flemington today with three fit horses, Junoob, Opinion and Who Shot Thebarman, ready to line up in the 2014 Melbourne Cup field.
The field for the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) was reduced to twenty-two following the scratchings of the Robert Hickmott trained Sea Moon because of an elevated temperature yesterday and this morning’s withdrawal of Cavalryman because of a leg injury.
Waller is confident that all his three runners will go to the barriers in peak condition following good solid preparations.
“It’s a big day today, we are not expecting too much but we have three chances, they are all sound and well and they certainly deserve to be there,” Waller told Racing Ahead.
“They have all had good preps and hopefully they can go one further today.”
“It’s the race we all aim for so there is no stepping back now, we have to push on and hopefully they can run that strong two miles, that’s what it is all about.”
Of his three runners, Waller is slightly leaning towards Junoob as his best chance in the Melbourne Cup.
“I think he is probably slightly the pick of my three. His run in the Caulfield Cup was very good. He didn’t get the best of runs but was still strong on the line, so hopefully he will step up and get a better run today from a better draw,” Waller said.
“I just spoke to Hugh Bowman and he was pretty happy the horse and his chances hoping he would get a good and he thought he would.”
Junoob and Opinion ran the quinella in the Group 1 $400,000 McGrath Estate Agents Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick on October 4 before Waller headed them off on different path when they arrived in Melbourne.
Junoob was only beaten two and a quarter lengths when seventh to Admire Rakti in the Group 1 $3m Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on October 18 while Opinion was sent to Moonee Valley where he ran sixth to Prince Of Penzance in the Group 2 $250,000 Racing.com Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m) on October 25.
Opinion, who is one of Waller’s many English imports, has solid Group 1 form in Sydney but the premier trainer still things he needs to lift to be a serious contender.
“He’s had two Group 1 seconds, the Sydney Cup and The Metrop. Again with him he has to step up to the top level.”
Waller’s third runner Who Shot Thebarman was never in contention when thirteenth in the Caulfield Cup but Waller is willing to forgive that effort after the Auckland Cup winner had a tough run.
“He certainly did it pretty tough, he was out wide. Hope he gets a more tractable path. Drawn out a bit but still quite a few drawn on his outside, I think he will end up in a pretty good spot,” Waller said.
Who Shot Thebarman was a winner at his two previous start at Flemington with a victory over 2000m before winning the Group 3 $150,000 The Bart Cummings (2520m) at on October 4.
Latest Melbourne Cup market order: $6 Admire Rakti, $7 Lucia Valentina, $7.50 Fawkner, $8 Protectionist, $8.50 Signoff $9 Mutual Regard, $21 Red Cadeaux, Who Shot Thebarman, $26 Junoob, Willing Foe, Araldo, $34 My Ambivalent, $61 Opinion, $71 Gatewood, Lidari $81 Brambles, Seismos, Au Revoir, Royal Diamond, Precedence, Unchain My Heart, $201 Mr O’Ceirin.