After finally tasting victory in the G1 Lexus Melbourne Cup with the British-bred Cross Counter (son of Teofilo) with jockey Kerrin McEvoy this week, Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin racing stable is targeting another G1 race at Melbourne's Flemington racecourse this weekend – the Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes. Godolphin, which also garnered major wins on the turf at last weekend's Breeders' Cup Championships, will be fielding a European-bred horse, Blair House, in the last major race of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Stakes Day, the four-day Carnival's final race day, boasts eight other races, including the G1 VRC Sprint, featuring the G1 Everest winner Redzel, and the G3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
G1 Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes
The 1-mile Mackinnon Stakes, which has a purse of $2 million AUD ($1.4 million), starts at 4:55 p.m. Melbourne time this Saturday, Nov. 10th (12:55 a.m. EDT, or 9:55 p.m. PDT on Friday, Nov. 9th). The UK-born Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby will be attempting to carry the momentum of his Melbourne Cup victory into another successful performance with Irish-bred 6-year-old Blair House, who placed second behind Benbatl in the G1 Caulfield Stakes last month.
“I'm very confident,” says Appleby, whose recent turf wins include last weekend's G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf with Line of Duty. “He looks great. I feel that they've got us to beat on Saturday.”
Given his performance at Caulfield, Appleby's record and European-bred horses' tendency to dominate in turf staying events, Blair House is the favorite, at 2/1 odds. Ridden by William Buick, he's also drawn well with barrier 2.
Blair House will face a strong challenge from Irish-bred galloper Latrobe, who is being primed for the race by last year's Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Joseph O' Brien, with Rekindling. The 4-year-old Latrobe, at odds of 9/2 and in barrier 3, defeated the 2018 Melbourne Cup's fifth placegetter Rostropovich to win the G1 Irish Derby in June, but has been out of action since placing second in the G1 Irish St. Leger in September.
O'Brien didn't feel the Melbourne Cup was right for Latrobe this year. “He doesn't have nearly the same miles on the clock that Rekindling had coming down last season, he wasn't a guaranteed stayer and he is just a less-mature colt, so we decided that the Mackinnon Stakes might be a better spot for him,” explains the trainer.
O'Brien is confident that Latrobe will perform well against Blair House. “The lads that have been here with him have been very happy with him through his preparation here in quarantine, so we're looking forward to the race now.”
Local horse Extra Brut has a strong chance of overcoming both favorites, though, after achieving one of the biggest upsets of the season. Last week, the Darren Weir-trained colt defeated G1 Victoria Derby favorite Thinkin' Big impressively. As a 3-year-old in a weight for age race, the younger horse enters the Stakes with the advantage of a light weight of just 112lbs compared to Blair House's 130lb. The bookies give Extra Brut 7/1 odds.
G1 VRC Sprint & G3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes
Trainer Appleby and jockey Kerrin McEvoy combined forces with Cross Counter to win the Melbourne Cup, but they will return to Flemington as opponents in the VRC Sprint. The 6-furlong sprint down the famous Flemington straight, which starts at 4:10 p.m. local time on Saturday, Nov. 10th (12:10 a.m. EDT, or 9:10 p.m. PDT on Friday, Nov. 9th), will see McEvoy once again riding Redzel (4/1), who led all the way to retain his G1 Everest crown last month.
The Appleby-trained Jungle Cat (10/1), ridden by William Buick, will attempt to thwart them. The Irish-bred 6-year-old has finished first in all of his last four starts, including winning the G1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes in September and the G1 Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai back in March
The Aidan O'Brien stable in Ireland also has four starters in the Sprint: Spirit of Valor, Intelligence Cross, US Navy Flag, and Fleet Review, which sets up a Northern Hemisphere versus Southern Hemisphere battle in the race.
The bookies think that locally trained Pierata and his mount Tommy Berry can defeat the Northern Hemisphere group of sprinters and the Redzel-McEvoy combination. The 4-year-old stallion comfortably won against Jungle Edge in the G1 Sydney Stakes last month and has odds of 5/1.
The G3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes, a consolation race for horses not in the Melbourne Cup, tends to be dominated by European horses. Last year's edition was won by Ireland's Vengeur Masque, with fellow Irish horse Grey Lion placing second.
This year, two of the top three horses in the betting markets are occupied by Irish-bred runners, with 6-year-old Jaameh (7/2 odds) leading in the markets over compatriot The Taj Mahal (5/1). French-bred and Darren Weir-trained 6-year-old Gallic Chieftain could prevent an Irish victory at 5/1.
The entire nine-race card will be broadcast live on TVG. US fans will also be able to live-stream the day's races and wager at ADW platforms such as TwinSpires, Xpressbet, NYRABets, WatchandWager, HPIbet, AmWager, and BetAmerica. Free past performances and expert picks on all races are available at skyracingworld.com.
About David Haslett
A former Managing Director of Sportech Racing, David was appointed President and CEO of Sky Racing World in April 2014. The Louisville, Kentucky-based company, a subsidiary of Australian wagering firm Tabcorp, provides Australian, New Zealand, South African and South Korean thoroughbred racing and Australian Harness racing content for simulcast horse-race wagering to multiple North America-facing ADW brands and race-tracks.
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