The first of three Melbourne majors, the Caulfield Cup, will be heading to Japan after exciting five-year old Mer De Glace beat a strong mix of internationals and locals at the Heath racecourse on Saturday. Trained by Hisashi Shimuzu, Mer De Glace had come into the race in great form winning his five previous races in Japan, including the latest three at Group Three level.
Damian Lane continued a great year both here and abroad. He partnered the horse to win one of those Group Three’s in Japan, as well as notching up a couple of Group One wins whilst doing a stint there. He also won the first of the big four Australian races this calendar year aboard Godolphin fily Kiamichi in the Golden Slipper.
The 2019 Caulfield Cup looked an open affair on paper with the new acquisition to the Hayes/Hayes/Dabernig stable, Constantinople, to start favourite after switching from the Aidan O’Brien stable. Five runners started between $6.50 and $8 at the top of the betting market, including the winner and second place-getter Vow And Declare.
Although the international numbers were down on last year officially, there was no shortage of runners formerly trained overseas now calling Australia home. Seven former European trained horses, two Kiwis and the one Japanese trained horse joined the locals. Hartnell was the sentimental favourite having his second to last career run, honest as always after racing on the speed, he faded to finish mid-field only beaten three lengths.
It looked a lottery as the field fanned for home with up to a dozen winning chances, all but one horse were within three lengths at the 400m mark. Constantinople copped a check that he could not recover from, but hit the line well in what was a good warm-up for Flemington over the two miles. Soon after straightening it was clear that Mer De Glace out wide was running on best and did so, officially winning by a length over the Danny O’Brien trained Vow And Declare who stuck on well after working. There were a few hard luck stories but the winner certainly looked to be a class above.
There were only four lengths between first and tenth officially, with the Kris Lees trained outsider Big Duke unfortunately pulled up down the side and didn’t complete the race. Mer De Glace will start one of the favourites at Flemington in the Melbourne Cup against half a dozen of these, with fellow Japanese star Lys Gracieux looking a standout at the top of the betting for the Cox Plate next week. Who is to say that the land of the rising sun will not take home the trifecta of big Spring trophies?
2019 Caulfield Cup Finishing Order
1st Mer De Glace
2nd Vow And Declare
3rd Mirage Dancer
8th Red Verdon
9th The Chosen One
11th Mr Quickie
12th Gold Mount
14th Brimham Rocks
15th Angel Of Truth
FF Big Duke