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Can Bart do it again in the Melbourne Cup?

Posted on 06/10 by Pom de Turf

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As the Melbourne racing carnival gets underway, Bart Cummings has high hopes for his winner of the Underwood Stakes, the first group 1 race. Racegoers at Caulfield would agree that racing may have already found its Spring champion as So You Think romped home in the Underwood and now has the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup in his sights.

Bookmakers subsequently turned in So You Think from $3.60 to the lower quote of $2.50 for the Cox Plate, and shortened his Melbourne Cup price to $9 equal favourite with last year's winner Shocking, following his impressive performance in defeating some high quality weight-for-age gallopers.

So You Think's trainer, Bart Cummings, an amazing 83 years, now has the favourites or equal favourites for the forthcoming three majors - the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup. The Underwood Stakes runner-up Dariana last night joined Moudre, who is still unqualified, at the top of the Caulfield Cup market.

Owner Duncan Ramage said yesterday that no decisions would be made on a Melbourne Cup start until after the Cox Plate. Ramage bought So You Think for $130,000 as a yearling in New Zealand for part-owner Dato Tan Chin Nam, He did, however, agree that this horse, son of High Chaparral, who had endured a tough run three wide for the last 600 metres, was not a normal racehorse. 'He's a bit of a freak,'' he said.

In less tahn three weeks So You Think will contend in the Yalumba Stakes over 2000 metres at Caulfield and a fortnight later defends his Cox Plate title. Indeed, there are few precedents to compare with.

The great Makybe Diva had five starts, ending with victories in the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup in her 2005 Spring campaign. In 1996, the Cummings-trained Saintly won the Cox Plate and also took the Melbourne Cup some 10 days later, but had a 2600-metre race under his belt that campaign.

So the spring dream is exciting for the connections of So You Think, but for the owners of Warrnambool horse Moudre there was disappointment, as he narrowly failed to grab a Caulfield Cup berth when he came home late for third in the Naturalism Stakes.

A win would have confirmed a ballot-free run into the race but now he has to win either the group 1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington in 13 days or the group 2 Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield the following week to take his place in the Caulfield Cup, for which at the moment he remains equal favourite.

Moudre was positioned at the tail of the field on the home turn but made up many lengths and was eventually beaten by less than half a length by Rainbow Styling, who is not entered for any of the spring majors, and VRC Oaks runner-up Valdemoro.

Moudre's trainer, Ciaron Maher, said he was still pushing on to attempt to qualify the horse for the Caulfield Cup. ''I'm not overly concerned. It might be a Caulfield Cup is not his race and he might be better off at Flemington,'' he said.

Meanwhile, in the Windsor Park Stud Stakes at Hastings, New Zealand's best weight-for-age galloper, Wall Street, won his second group 1 race to further claims for a Cox Plate start. Caulfield Cup hopeful Keep The Peace also kept dreams alive by finishing a close third.

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