Weighty problem for Melbourne Cup hopeful
KIWI galloper Mongolian Khan will have to carry 56kg in this year's Melbourne Cup after being given a 1kg penalty for his victory in Saturday's Caulfield Cup.
Racing Victoria's Greg Carpenter said the four-year-old faced a tough challenge to become the first horse since Kiwi mare Ethereal in 2001 to claim the Cups double, particularly when compared to former champions Gurner's Lane (1982) and Might And Power (1997) which both carried 56kg in the second leg of their doubles.
"It is worth noting that Gurner's Lane won his Caulfield Cup by five lengths, while Might and Power won by seven-and-a-half lengths in track record time," Carpenter said.
"The only four-year-old to have won the Melbourne Cup with more than 56kg in the last 50 years was Bart Cummings' champion Galilee, who carried 56.5kg to victory in 1966."
Since 1997, two four-year-old Caulfield Cup winners - Sky Heights (1999) and Elvstroem (2004) - were both re-handicapped to 56.5kg in the Melbourne Cup and ran 17th and fourth respectively.
Carpenter also said while this year's Caulfield Cup had been one of the strongest on record, several leading Melbourne Cup hopefuls had bypassed the race.
"The Melbourne Cup always provides a new challenge, run over 3200m and with a new wave of horses coming to the contest," the handicapper said.
"Of the top 15 in the order of entry for the Melbourne Cup, eight did not run in the Caulfield Cup."
That group included recent Turnbull Stakes winner Preferment which will carry 53.5kg at Flemington and was singled out by Carpenter as being favourably weighted when compared to Mongolian Khan.
Also the winner of last year's Victoria Derby, Preferment is set to run in Saturday's $3 million Cox Plate (2040m) where the four-year-old will have the services of Hong Kong-based Australian jockey Nash Rawiller.
Rawiller picked up the mount after Hugh Bowman elected to stick with Epsom Handicap winner Winx in the Cox Plate.
Blake Shinn had been on standby with Sydney trainer Chris Waller to ride the horse Bowman rejected, but unfortunately was suspended for eight meetings on a careless riding charge at Sunday's Seymour Cup meeting.
Winx was the $5 favourite for the Cox Plate with UBet yesterday, just ahead of Criterion $6, with European galloper Highland Reel on the next line at $6.50.
The field for the Cox Plate will be finalised this morning, with officials likely to decide between Complacent and Pornichet for the last spot in the 14-strong line-up.