Caulfield and Melbourne Cup hopefuls step up to a more suitable distance in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield, with the winner gaining automatic entry into next month’s Caulfield Cup.
The exemption was added to the Naturalism Stakes in 2007, but since conditions were changed, no horse has completed the Naturalism-Caulfield Cup double.
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Former French stayer, spelled after winning the Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick in April.
Why he can: Had hoof issues before producing career best form during the autumn with a Group 3 placing prior to his Cup win. First-up winner and 2000m looks an ideal trip to start his campaign.
Why he can’t: Being set for the Melbourne Cup and will find this race too short.
Seven-year-old entire, won last year’s Sandown Cup (3200m).
Why he can: Was doing his best work over the last 400m when midfield behind Great Esteem in the Heatherlie Handicap (1700m). Fitness level goes up and extra distance is a bonus.
Why he can’t: Wide barrier (17) is a challenge for jockey Michael Walker. Being prepared for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups and will not be peaking here.
English import, who has had just three starts since finishing 7th in last year’s Melbourne Cup, being set for the Cup again, where he is a $41 chance.
Why he can: He was resuming and turned in an even effort when 9th to Awesome Rock in the Feehan Stakes (1600m). In the money in five of his seven second-up runs.
Why he can’t: Not wound-up for this and his main mission, this preparation , is the Melbourne Cup.
The former West Australian mare won last year’s Perth Cup (2400m) and is the first, in race book order, of Darren Weir’s six acceptors.
Why she can: Will take improvement from her first-up second to Awesome Rock in the Feehan Stakes. She’s a very honest six-year-old and the rise from 1600m to 2000m is in her favour.
Why she can’t: Had a dream run through the field at Moonee Valley and from barrier 10 she will get back in the field and needs luck finding a passage.
A seven-year-old gelding from the Weir yard, he won five in a row last year, from 2000m up to 2600m.
Why he can: Two runs in from a spell, over trips too short have been fair. Fitness edge and good barrier will work in his favour.
Why he can’t: Not good enough, best win was at Group 3 level. Limited tries, but has no wet track success.
Last year’s VRC Oaks winner and two-time Group 1 placed mare.
Why she can: She had a forget run in the Feehan last start, when caught four wide, covering more ground than Burke and Wills. Although 7th beaten 3.8lengths, with better luck she could have won or run a place. Jumps from barrier one this time.
Why she can’t: She’s been consistently around the money, but hasn’t won in her four-year-old career.
A handy stayer and won this race last year.
Why he can: Edging closer to a win in each of his three starts this preparation. Latest he held his ground for fourth in the Heatherlie Stakes. Fit and should race on the speed, excels at Caulfield.
Why he can’t: Not racing as well as he did last year.
The 2014 VRC Oaks winner.
Why she can: Had cover, but was still wide when a game third to Awesome Rock in the Feehan. That run suggests she is getting back to her best and if so she is capable of giving this a shake.
Why she can’t: She has drawn barrier 18 and is a big risk of getting trapped deep again. She’s a five-year-old and the Oaks win, as a three-year-old, was her last.
He won the Werribee Cup (2635m) in December.
Why he can: Darren Weir trains and that is his biggest plus.
Why he can’t: Country Cups horse, better suited in something easier.
Trained by Robert Smerdon and won the Mornington Cup (2400m) in April.
Why he can: Not disgraced at Listed level last start when midfield to Greast Esteem in the Heatherlie Handicap.
Why he can’t: Wins are well spaced and another runner that looks out of his depth.
A six-year-old gelding, that is in the best form of his career.
Why he can: Races well this track, where he has won his last two starts. Led all of the way in the Heatherlie, carries the same weight again and will dictate terms in front.
Why he can’t: Up in grade here and yet to win beyond 1800m.
A former English stayer, he won his Australian debut in listed company at Bendigo last year.
Why he can: Gets out to a distance more to his liking and fitness levels will be up after finishing midfield in a handicap at Moonee Valley.
Why he can’t: Placed at Group 3 level in March, but that has been his best showing since the Bendigo win.
Odds: ($3.90 favourite)
This promising six-year-old gelding was purchased by Australian interests after a Maiden win in Ireland. Jockey Glen Boss returns from Singapore to test as a possible Caulfield Cup mount.
Why he can: Has worked through the grades. Raced on the speed and held his ground when second to Great Esteem last start. He is learning as he progresses and sure to be improved.
Why he can’t: The Listed Albury Cup is his biggest win in just nine career starts. He has a tendency to over race and can’t afford to do that in this type of company.
Former German gelding with Listed level wins in Germany and Moonee Valley.
Why he can: Difficult to make a solid case for him. Distance suits, nice barrier, drops in weight and should take up a forward position.
Why he can’t: Listed level is his absolute limit.
A seven-year-old mare, imported from France last year. Has received solid backing and has firmed from $17 for this mission.
Why she can: Has made gradual improvement and broke through for first Australian win in May. Finished off strongly when a second-up fourth in a Flemington Handicap (1700m). Extra distance is in her favour.
Why she can’t: Outside barrier is too big a hurdle to overcome.
This super consistent gelding has been out of a place just once in his last eight starts.
Why he can: Came from second last, was the widest runner on the home turn and hit the line in good fashion to finish fourth in the Heatherlie. Races well at Caulfield and will be peaking for this.
Why he can’t: Yet to win above Handicap level and could get too far out of his ground again.
She is a seven-year-old mare from the Weir yard. Finished second to Excess Knowledge in last year’s Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m).
Why she can: Has the Weir polish.
Why she can’t: Wins are well spaced and against much easier opposition.
Former European gelding, left with Darren Weir after finishing third in last year’s Geelong Cup.
Why he can: Weir will have to weave some magic to get this seven-year-old over the line first.
Why he can’t: One win in 14 starts, outclassed.
The last of Weir’s acceptors and won the Terang Cup in April.
Why he can: Third-up from a spell and out to a more suitable trip.
Why he can’t: Outclassed.
Japanese import won at Sandown in March.
Why he can: Second-up here and only two wins have come at that stage of his preparation.
Why he can’t: Not good enough.
1 – Jameka
2 – Second Bullet
3 – Tom Melbourne
Value: Set Square