By ROY ASPINALL
THE handicapper was right on the ball when he allocated Japanese visitor, Admire Rakti, top weight of 58kg as the seven-year-old won Saturday’s 137th running of the $3,150,000 Group 1 Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup (2400 metres) in impressive style.
He will now be favourite for the Group 1 $6,200,000 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200 metres) but the handicapper will have a say. Admire Rakti has been allocated 58kg for Flemington.
The Tomoyuki Umeda-trained Heart’s Cry seven-year-old is the first horse from Japan to race in an Australian major since 2010.
Admire Rakti was ridden by one of Australia’s top expat jockeys, Zac Purton having won last year’s Hong Kong premiership, and the pair were tough enough to run down the front runner in the straight, Rising Romance, who moved up from her sixth spot with 800m left to travel, for a strong run.
Winner of the ATC Oaks in the autumn, the Donna Logan-trained New Zealand mare Rising Romance had every chance with a lovely run along the rails but couldn’t hold off the international who mowed her down and she finished second best.
Finishing off the Caulfield Cup trifecta in a close third was the beaten favourite, the Kris Lees-trained Turnbull Stakes winner Lucia Valentina who was brave in defeat with a wide run flashing home to lose few admirers. Admire Rakti, who won by 0.4 lengths with 0.5 lengths to third, was also forced to race wide and finished his race off well.
Japan ran one-two in the 2006 Melbourne Cup with Delta Blues and Pop Rock. With Admire Rakti looking to become the second Japanese-trained winner of the ‘race that stops a nation’ Purton was thrilled with the win and said he rode the horse how he liked to be ridden, and how he was trained to be ridden back home, getting a gun run three wide with cover.
“He was going to be hard to beat today,” Purton said, “We were three wide with a bit of cover, the Japanese horses love that… it’s the way they’re trained, that’s what they’re used to.”
This week is full of action with Wednesday’s $315,000 Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400 metres) featuring several Melbourne Cup contenders – Media Puzzle, Americain and Dunaden won the race before their Flemington success.
Then follows the Cox Plate meeting at Moonee Valley over two days with the first on Friday evening, featuring the $1,015,000 Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200 metres) which will feature some of the nation’s best sprinters, including the current Australian Horse of the Year, Lankan Rupee and a decision will be made this week on a start for Chautauqua, this spring’s star sprinter, which will make an exciting contest.
Saturday will see the $3,050,000 Group 1 Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040 metres). Last year Fawkner gave Lloyd Williams, the biggest resident racehorse owner in Australia, a long awaited missing trophy when he won the Caulfield Cup and this year he is set to add the Cox Plate, the only one of the ‘big three’ missing from the trophy cabinet to go with his four Melbourne Cups.
Fawkner has come to hand superbly and second up was outstanding winning the Caulfield Stakes (2000 metres) on October 11. Second was Criterion and third the international visitor, Side Glance, who ran an unlucky sixth (beaten by four lengths) in the Cox Plate last year. He went on to win the LKS McKinnon Stakes at Flemington a week later.
“The horse is flying and it’s a great credit to dad, he’s done a wonderful job with this horse”, said Nick Williams, son of Lloyd, after Fawkner’s Caulfield win, “Dad’s taken him along slowly… we’re really seeing the benefits of that now.”
Whilst Fawkner is the horse to beat, Criterion and Side Glance will be serious challengers although there is still a decision to be made about Side Glance starting. The Irish-trained, Adelaide is a class performer and The Cleaner from Tasmania will be a sentimental favourite. Sacred Falls and Happy Trails must be respected.
Sportingbet Sandown Guineas Day will be held at Sportingbet Park, Sandown on Saturday, November 15.