Infotainment Factory: Cup standout: 'Best run in 21 years'

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Monday, 5 November 2018

Cup standout: 'Best run in 21 years'


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Yucatan delivered the best Melbourne Cup lead-up run in 21 years and is a deserved favourite for Tuesday's race, says legendary racing expert Ken Callander.

The Irish galloper, trained by Aidan O'Brien and ridden by James McDonald, delivered an extraordinary effort to win the 2400m Herbert Power Stakes (G2) last month. Callander said it was the best Cup warm-up since Might and Power in 1997 and he was further swayed towards Yucatan by the fact that he's a Lloyd Williams-owned horse.

"Definitely the horse to beat is the favourite, Yucatan," Callander, the long-time racing expert on Channel Nine, told Wide World of Sports.

"The fact that they brought him to Australia and he's owned by Lloyd Williams, who's won so many Melbourne Cups (6) - they had this horse set for the Melbourne Cup from a fair way out and they know how to pick the right horses.

"Then, to cap that off with his only Australian start ... he won absolutely as though he was in a different class. He was eased down, or he would have won by six or seven lengths.

"It's the most impressive Cup lead-up I've seen since Might and Power in 1997 - and he won the Melbourne Cup."

FULL MELBOURNE CUP FORM GUIDE

Callander said he suspected Yucatan was shielded from running in the Caulfield Cup simply to avoid another weight penalty.

"Given his first-up win in the Herbert Power, they already gave him a two-and-a-half kilo penalty," Callander said.

"Incidentally, in 1997, Might and Power carried a three-and-a-half kilo penalty."

Callander predicted that one of the few local hopes, light-weight chance Youngstar, would also finish in the placings.

"She's trained by Chris Waller and ridden by Craig Williams. Although neither has won a Cup, no one would deny that they're at the top of their profession," Callander said.

"I've always thought that the Caulfield Cup was the best lead-up form to the Melbourne Cup and her run in the Caulfield Cup, even though she only finished seventh, was outstanding. She got shuffled back to second-last at the turn in a slowly-run race and ran home better than anything in the race.

"I think she's crying out for two miles and she's a top-class young mare. I think she'll be hard to beat."

Callander said that Cross Counter also had a good chance. Trained by Charlie Appleby, he would be the first English galloper to win the Cup.

"He [Appleby] has brought a lot of horses to Australia and they've all run well," Callander said.

"He's ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, who's won the Cup twice. And he's only had seven starts, which is unusual for a horse to run in the Cup with such limited experience - but he's won four of those seven and run second in two of the other three.

"He's run in the best company in Europe and Appleby knows what it takes to win here in Australia. Significantly, McEvoy was keen to get off Youngstar to ride him, which makes you think that the connections have given him a very, very good push to ride Cross Counter."

Caulfield Cup winner Best Solution must also be respected, according to Callander.

"Often the Caulfield Cup winner has got to carry a penalty. This horse never received a penalty for winning the Caulfield Cup and I think that his form stacks up enormous," Callander said.

"He'd won three in a row in Europe, in England and Germany before coming, so he's now won four in a row. He's won nine out of 22 in total, he's proved he can handle Australian conditions by winning the Caulfield Cup.

"He could be slightly suspect at 3200m, but I've found in the past that good 2400m horses from Europe always get the 3200m in Australia. I think Best Solution will be right in the finish."

KEN CALLANDER'S PICKS

1. Yucatan

2. Youngstar

3. Cross Counter

4. Best Solution

Yucatan delivered the best Melbourne Cup lead-up run in 21 years and is a deserved favourite for Tuesday's race, says legendary racing expert Ken Callander.

The Irish galloper, trained by Aidan O'Brien and ridden by James McDonald, delivered an extraordinary effort to win the 2400m Herbert Power Stakes (G2) last month. Callander said it was the best Cup warm-up since Might and Power in 1997 and he was further swayed towards Yucatan by the fact that he's a Lloyd Williams-owned horse.

"Definitely the horse to beat is the favourite, Yucatan," Callander, the long-time racing expert on Channel Nine, told Wide World of Sports.

"The fact that they brought him to Australia and he's owned by Lloyd Williams, who's won so many Melbourne Cups (6) - they had this horse set for the Melbourne Cup from a fair way out and they know how to pick the right horses.

"Then, to cap that off with his only Australian start ... he won absolutely as though he was in a different class. He was eased down, or he would have won by six or seven lengths.

"It's the most impressive Cup lead-up I've seen since Might and Power in 1997 - and he won the Melbourne Cup."

FULL MELBOURNE CUP FORM GUIDE

Callander said he suspected Yucatan was shielded from running in the Caulfield Cup simply to avoid another weight penalty.

"Given his first-up win in the Herbert Power, they already gave him a two-and-a-half kilo penalty," Callander said.

"Incidentally, in 1997, Might and Power carried a three-and-a-half kilo penalty."

Callander predicted that one of the few local hopes, light-weight chance Youngstar, would also finish in the placings.

"She's trained by Chris Waller and ridden by Craig Williams. Although neither has won a Cup, no one would deny that they're at the top of their profession," Callander said.

"I've always thought that the Caulfield Cup was the best lead-up form to the Melbourne Cup and her run in the Caulfield Cup, even though she only finished seventh, was outstanding. She got shuffled back to second-last at the turn in a slowly-run race and ran home better than anything in the race.

"I think she's crying out for two miles and she's a top-class young mare. I think she'll be hard to beat."

Callander said that Cross Counter also had a good chance. Trained by Charlie Appleby, he would be the first English galloper to win the Cup.

"He [Appleby] has brought a lot of horses to Australia and they've all run well," Callander said.

"He's ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, who's won the Cup twice. And he's only had seven starts, which is unusual for a horse to run in the Cup with such limited experience - but he's won four of those seven and run second in two of the other three.

"He's run in the best company in Europe and Appleby knows what it takes to win here in Australia. Significantly, McEvoy was keen to get off Youngstar to ride him, which makes you think that the connections have given him a very, very good push to ride Cross Counter."

Caulfield Cup winner Best Solution must also be respected, according to Callander.

"Often the Caulfield Cup winner has got to carry a penalty. This horse never received a penalty for winning the Caulfield Cup and I think that his form stacks up enormous," Callander said.

"He'd won three in a row in Europe, in England and Germany before coming, so he's now won four in a row. He's won nine out of 22 in total, he's proved he can handle Australian conditions by winning the Caulfield Cup.

"He could be slightly suspect at 3200m, but I've found in the past that good 2400m horses from Europe always get the 3200m in Australia. I think Best Solution will be right in the finish."

KEN CALLANDER'S PICKS

1. Yucatan

2. Youngstar

3. Cross Counter

4. Best Solution

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