Two ‘Million-Dollar’ Group 1s At Flemington

Image courtesy of
Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente is favourite for the Australian Cup. Image courtesy of

There is more than $3.2m in prizemoney on offer at Flemington on Saturday, with the lions’ share going to the winner of the Australian Cup and Newmarket Handicap. They are both Group 1s – the Australian Cup is a weight for age contest over 2000m, while the Newmarket is a handicap over 1200m.

While there are nine runners in the Australian Cup, most see it as a clash between Melbourne Cup victor, Fiorente , and Cox Plate winner, Shamus Award . The two have met once before in a race known as Australia’s ‘weight for age championship’, the W.S. Cox Plate, at Moonee Valley last October. On that occasion, Fiorente finished a half head, long neck behind Shamus Award, which held on to break its maiden status in elite company. At its next start, Gai Waterhouse’s European import (Fiorente) won the Melbourne Cup. In the spring, Fiorente carried 9.5kg more than Shamus Award. Now there’s only 4.5kg between them, giving the older horse a real chance to square the ledger.

Trained by Danny O’Brien, Shamus Award was spelled after the Cox Plate. The three-year-old returned to racing with a third to Moment Of Change in C.F. Orr Stakes, before a gallant victory in the Australian Guineas last week. Just like he did in his two race victories, the son of Snitzel is again expected to lead and if allowed to dictate will be hard to run down.

A lightly raced six-year-old, Fiorente , has had eight starts in Australia since being sourced by Waterhouse. He’s notched three wins, a second and two thirds down under. Fiorente’s first run since his Cup success saw him win the Peter Young at WFA over 1800m at Caulfield two weeks ago. Champion jockey Damien Oliver continues his unbeaten run on the son of Monsun, having ridden him to victory on the first Tuesday in November (Melbourne Cup) and last start.

The other ‘Million Dollar Baby’ on the all group and listed race program is the Newmarket Handicap down the Flemington straight-six. Mick Price has a strong hand with Lankan Rupee , which is going for five straight, and the Blue Diamond winner of a couple of seasons ago, Samaready . A four-year-old mare, Samaready is two from two second-up and has won three races over this distance. Peter Snowden’s Knoydart  is very consistent and down in the weights, while the number 1 saddle-cloth and top weight of 58kg belongs to Peter Moody’s Moment Of Change . Last year’s winner Sham Express  will have to carry 5.5kg more than when he beat Moment Of Change and Aeronautical 12 months ago> He's never saluted in four attempts second-up.

Click here for all racing markets