Punters are banking on a victory for Japan in the Melbourne Cup but it might not come from the horse they expect.
Fame Game is the clear-cut $3.20 favourite for Tuesday’s race at Flemington while fellow Japanese contender Hokko Brave is a $31 outsider.
Victory by either runner would provide Japan with a second Melbourne Cup success after Delta Blues and Pop Rock ran one-two in the 2006 edition.
Equine influenza then halted their progress until Tokei Trick finished 12th in 2010 before Admire Ratki came to Australia last year.
Fame Game caught everyone’s attention in the Caulfield Cup, including the stewards, with his sixth placing behind Mongolian Khan whereas Hokko Brave has flown under the radar after finishing 10th at Caulfield.
But connections of Hokko Brave, to be ridden by Craig Williams, have every confidence in their horse.
Speaking through interpreter Hiroshi Ando, Hokko Brave’s trainer Yasutoshi Matsunaga said the Caulfield Cup had not gone to plan.
“The Caulfield Cup was an unfortunate race,” Matsunaga said.
“The pace was not helpful for our horse and we believe we can beat Fame Game.
“We believe that a local jockey knows this racecourse and that’s a big advantage.”
Despite a wide draw of 20, Matsunaga thinks the bigger track at Flemington will also suit Hokko Brave.
Fame Game’s trainer Yoshitada Munakata, via interpreter Kosi Kawakami, said he could not fault the preparation of his stayer.
Fame Game was ridden at the back of the field from his wide barrier in the Caulfield Cup and stewards grilled Munakata and jockey Zac Purton and the trainer expects the horse to be ridden closer from his better draw.
Munakata said he respected the fact that Fame Game is so highly regarded in the Melbourne Cup.
“It’s a great honour to be a short-priced favourite but the rest of the field will be hard to beat,” Munakata said.
“There are dangers from the Caulfield Cup runners like Trip To Paris but I believe if he (Fame Game) shows his true potential, he will be up to it.”
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au