2017 Caulfield Cup runner-by-runner review

2017 Caulfield Cup runner-by-runner review

The 2017 Caulfield Cup saw a big upset – let’s review the race, and the Melbourne Cup chances going forward from it.

This post contains the original preview as published on The Roar, followed by Result analysis and insight that we received from the race.

Speed of the race

The speed that was predicted played out, and ever more. With Amelie’s Star rocking to the front, using too much petrol to do so, and then Sir Isaac Newton taking over, it was a strong gallop throughout. You can find some swift sectional splits in every part of the race.

There was really a bit of a race within a race – the initial efforts by jockeys to get to the front to fight the track bias (eg in Amelie’s Star and Humidor being on the pace), the chase down of Sir Isaac Newton led by Single Gaze, and then the run home which was marred by interference.

The rail position and track bias

The rail out six metres seemed to create a fast lane on the day and made it difficult for backmarkers to challenge those at the front. Sir Isaac Newton was one of the few complete failures there. Many winners railed through. Marmelo and Abbey Marie both made ground wide.

Runner-by-runner results and analysis

1. Humidor

Pre-race preview

He put himself forward in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) and thrashed some of his rivals in this race, but then next outing he was third behind Winx when some thought he’d genuinely challenge. He beat the likes of rivals Gailo Chop, Ventura Storm and Inference in the Makybe Diva but then couldn’t get past Ventura Storm down the Flemington straight.

Trainer Darren Weir said after that he’d play with his gear, and has added a bubble cheeker to stop him hanging and tongue tie. He’s a bit of a difficult horse to train and ride according to reports, but if his head is in the game he’s a chance.

Query over a strongly run 2400m leads me to put him behind some others. Much prefer him at 1600m-2000m, but they won’t know until they try.

Caulfield Cup Result: 5th

Humidor was unusually on the speed with jockey Damian Lane keen to have him handy after watching the first seven races play out. And he stayed on well enough to think that he did run out the 2400m and might even be able to get to 3200m given this was a real staying test.

The issue was he hung badly so the gear change didn’t work. Humidor’s quirkiness seemed to cost him dear.

Jockey Damian Lane said: “He ran well. He settled a lot closer than I anticipated and he got fired up going past the winning post the first time. When I went for him, he hung like a rusty gate and cost himself the race.”

2. Marmelo

Pre-race preview

Brings strong French staying form out of the Group 2 Prix Kergorlay (3000m) and that makes him immediately in with a chance in the Caulfield Cup if he can unleash that here. Hugh Bowman chose Marmelo over a few rivals and that’s a big tick.

The query is that the Kergorlay this year was a bit of a funny race where they walked it. His main aim is the Melbourne Cup and it’s not often you happen to win another Group 1 on the way unless things go very right. The odds are generous but I’m much more keen on him in the Melbourne Cup and just want to see him run well here.

Result: 6th (equal)

Ran home about as well as you could’ve hoped, one of the few horses to make ground out wide in the entire day of racing. Fast closing sectionals, eye-catching, and the preview was right not to back him in this when he’s focused on the Melbourne Cup. I think this helps the French staying form hold up too.

3. Johannes Vermeer

Pre-race preview

The Aidan O’Brien-trained runner, part-owned by Lloyd Williams, gave everyone notice when he flashed home last week in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m). He drew an ideal barrier and was in form back home, winning the Group 3 International Stakes (2000m WFA) and was second in G3 Ballyroan Stakes (2400m). He’s only a young horse and has a win second-up, and drops in weight from last start.

There aren’t a lot of negatives but I’ll throw in that he’s never backed up as fast before, and his form is better over 2000m given he hasn’t won over 2400m. This distance test, only his second try, might not be as hard as what he’s faced back home but there’s a query there.

One other query – as we said at the start, all the horses that had their name in lights didn’t impress on the next run. Johannes Vermeer didn’t win but can he be as good second-up?

Result: 3rd

Came home strongly second-up! Just held up enough when ducking and weaving not to be able to let down. Wasn’t as close to the lead as the pre-race tactics suggested which cost him, as did his stablemate in Sir Isaac Newton who held him up as well. But he really did show that first-up form and have to say he stayed the 2400m well enough. Slightly surprised he didn’t get to Single Gaze for second in the end.

I’ve not really entertained him running in the Melbourne Cup given he doesn’t seem the true staying type but the 2400m didn’t seem to trouble him even at the pace. Maybe he can stay! Owners and connections are sticking with jockey Ben Melham and he’s in the Cup next.

4. Jon Snow

Pre-race preview

Would dearly have appreciated some sting out of the ground but doesn’t look like he’ll get anything but a good surface. He was third last week behind Gailo Chop and Johannes Vermeer and is a little vulnerable without a damp track, being a bit one-paced.

But he stays, and Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman should have him right to go. The draw means he should be leading without using him up early. I can’t see him not running well.

Result: 9th

Well, he didn’t run all that well. Let others sit on the speed, loomed, and then didn’t finish off well. He was checked and then came again which was encouraging but he desperately needed rain and didn’t get it. Disappointing.

Jockey Stephen Baster said: We ended up in a nice spot following Humidor. Around the half-mile, I pulled out to go around him but he really struggled. He got knocked down in the straight but he picked himself back up and kept coming. I thought it was a good run but he would have liked a bit more sting out of the track.

5. He’s Our Rokii

Pre-race preview

Not going well, and is a query at the distance given he’s never raced beyond 2000m. He’s drawn wide and altogether, that’s enough to look elsewhere. He does like Caulfield at least, where he won the Toorak this time last year. Hasn’t done much since unfortunately!

Result: 16th

Didn’t stay and didn’t do much again. Something’s not right with him you’d think. Jockey Luke Nolen said exactly that.

6. Sir Isaac Newton

Pre-race preview

The only runner from last year who’s back, and he was seventh then, and not sure he’s doing better now. Will appreciate 2400m but he has drawn widest in 17, and they still want him to be on the speed. That early burn might get him galloping room which helps, but he’ll spend his tickets early. Prefer others.

Result: 17th

Used up as a pacemaker and gone about 300m from home.

The Melbourne Cup question is: If he runs in it, does Team Williams send him out barrelling along again?

7. Ventura Storm

Pre-race preview

He’s a leading chance. All throughout his prep, they’ve been talking about both peaking him for this race and that they can’t wait to get him out to a further distance. He was a good second in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) last start, and has Group 1 form in Europe although that is in Italian Group 1s which are struggling to hold their status.

He’s drawn well and should be in the top four – and importantly, should improve again into the Melbourne Cup. Damien Oliver on board is a good sign. He might just lack some dash that we can find so useful in Australian racing but the truly run race should help.

Result: 13th

A few excuses including a big bump at the 400m mark as they cornered. But not excused – he didn’t let down at all in what was expected to be his best race so far. Black mark going forward for sure.

Jockey Damien Oliver said: “Had a nice run and he got a bump on the turn but I felt he was disappointing. His mind really wasn’t on the job today and he didn’t give us his best.”

Update: He’s pulled up with an injury concern with his foot that might yet rule him out of the Melbourne Cup. They’re hopeful he’ll still start but it’s not a good sign.

8. Wicklow Brave

Pre-race preview

The old boy is back for Willie Mullins and is using the Caulfield Cup as a lead-up in the Melbourne Cup. Over 2400m he’s only raced once for no result, preferring much further distances.

I’m happy to leave him out and drawn wide makes that even easier, but a big watch to see how he goes for the Melbourne Cup later. Would be the oldest ever winner at nine. One of the few I’m ruling out.


The preview was right and on the whole, he was a touch disappointing as he didn’t finish off. Copped a check at the 600m mark, but from about the 350m-200m mark he got around Sir Isaac Newton and pushed on quite well, only to tire late.

Based on all of that, I can’t see him winning the Melbourne Cup.

Joao Moreira said: “His reaction was a little bit slow out of the gate and that made it a little bit harder for him because he had to give a head start to the others. He was still able to save ground. Unfortunately, I got a little bit of interference at the 600(m) which cost me places.”

9. Inference

Pre-race preview

An interesting runner and one that’s under the radar even though he won the Randwick Guineas. Dwayne Dunn has been riding him throughout and has been consistently happy with him and talking up his chances over 2400m, but he’s actually unproven over the distance and also hasn’t won on a good surface in eight goes.

Blinkers go on him for the first time which is an entirely fair roll of the dice for trainers Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes. His sire was the great So You Think, so maybe the 2400m does suit.

I’d throw him right in on a wet track but in the dry, he’s only top eight or so.

Result: 15th

He was probably worse than expected on the good track. Blinkers didn’t help.

Jockey Dwayne Dunn isn’t writing him off though and he does have a guaranteed start in the Melbourne Cup, but the clouds have come in on his next run.

Dwayne Dunn: “Disappointing. He got back and didn’t run on. He might have had an off day. I’d like to see him again.”

10. Single Gaze

Pre-race preview

Another quiet achiever who has been looking for 2400m, with jockey Kathy O’Hara saying as much at each of her outings so far this prep. She’s a tough mare, and drops 4kg from her last start where she was only just off Jon Snow.

She’s rock hard fit and has been gearing up for this race and a possible Melbourne Cup. The knocks are she might not be classy enough, hasn’t placed yet at Caulfield, and is just one of from nine at Group 1 level.

I like her and she stays, and while I’d be surprised if she wins, she’s a must in exotics.

Result: 2nd

She was super tough. The ride got many plaudits, with O’Hara forced to do the chasing and bring up the field to Sir Isaac Newton, and then instead of quite fairly fading the Nick Olive-trained mare absolutely slogged it out.

The bias on the day might’ve helped her cause but O’Hara gave her every chance by front-running. She’ll surely start in the Melbourne Cup now and be a genuine hope. (O’Hara was given a 10 meeting ban for causing interference to Amelie’s Star.)

11. Bonneval

Pre-race preview

Ah, Bonneval. She looked the Caulfield Cup winner from her form in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m), beating Hartnell and Gailo Chop. That was her sixth straight win and all was rosy.

That was, until, last start, where things went wrong to finish back in sixth, and she was found to be lame by vets after only running okay and with some skin off as well.

Her Kiwi training partnership of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman – Baker anyway – said there was nothing wrong with her. She was graded 2/5 lame on Saturday, 1/5 lame during the week and finally passed fit on Thursday. Baker is a straight-shooter, saying after the vets found her fit: “I’m relieved it’s all okay, now I can go and have a beer and that’s what I’ll be doing.”

Jockey Kerrin McEvoy taking the ride is a plus on the form he’s in, and she’s very, very classy. I’m keeping her safe and she’s got a nice light weight, but the barrier didn’t do her any favours which is my biggest knock assuming she’s right.

Result: 14th

Kept too safe when she pulled up lame, again. That’s a big disappointment and while many will say no surprise, she was passed fit by vets and Baker said nothing was wrong with her. Given that we have to accept no trainer would run their horse with a known issue, we can take it as luck.

I wouldn’t be surprised if her spring is over now.

12. Hardham

Pre-race preview

He was incredibly disappointing when second in a restricted Inglis Cup at Caulfield, especially after a good win at Flemington before that. Going back, his form isn’t bad, when third in the ATC Derby, beaten less than a length by Jon Snow, but doesn’t get a lot of weight relief off him.

Trainer David Brideoak said back in autumn: “I think 2000m is his go but he’s a very clean-winded horse so when he gets racing, he’ll tell us where we go.”

Brideoak also indicated they might not even run him in the Caulfield Cup after his last start performance. I’m not including him in exotics just off that.

Result: 10th

He was an easy pot but ran better than some of the other fancies at $81.

13. Boom Time

Pre-race preview

He’s an Australian stayer still proving himself. Last campaign culminated in him jumping up to the Sydney Cup, where he more or less failed in heavy conditions.

The Caulfield Cup on a good track will suit him better and he has at least won at this distance and at the track. he was fourth in the Herbert Power last start which is pretty good form but he’s not well weighted compared to classy types like Jon Snow. Top half for mine but aiming a little high.

Result: 1st!

What an upset, and what a rise to the top for Boom Time and trainer/owner David Hayes and his extended team. And who predicted it? Almost no one. He wasn’t even going to be in the field until poor Admire Deus’ mishap.

I’m glad the preview gave him a chance but I still said he was aiming too high… now he’s in the Melbourne Cup with 52kgs and whatever penalty Greg Carpenter gives him. I just thought he’d be a few lengths off taking the win but the speed helped him show his stamina and not succumb to a sprint finish. He bowled along and made his luck, and kicked clear at the right time.

The form students perhaps wrote him off a little too easily but now the Herbert Power form is looking very good – possibly a good sign for Wall Of Fire. If they run this race again without the mad pace and without the track bias would he still have won? I’d have to say no. But he stayed the trip, just as he did in the Herbert Power as the only leader to be whacking away.

Boom Time is the first Caulfield Cup winner sired by a Golden Slipper winner, Flying Spur.

Jockey Cory Parish, on his much celebrated first Group 1 win, said: “This horse went super last start in the Herbert Power (Stakes), he was the only horse to finish off. I thought if he could relax today he would do it and he did just that.”

Update: There’s a chance they go to the Japan Cup with him, depending on how the Melbourne Cup goes, as they chase a big-money bonus for doing so.

14. Abbey Marie

Pre-race preview

Formguides show she hasn’t won since the Group 1 Schweppes Oaks (2000m) but she hasn’t been too far off them in her preparation, including a close second to Bonneval in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) and in the tough Naturalism was solid enough.

Her race last week in the Caulfield Stakes again looks bad in the form guide but she put in good final sectionals that seem to show she’ll be enjoying the 2400m with a ligh tweight. Another hitch is that the Mick Kent-trained mare hasn’t run that distance before. Prefer others with more proven claims.

Result: 6th (equal)

I actually think she is underrated a little – in the finish, Marmelo did come from behind to hit the line with her dead even, but she did make ground and did do a lot of work going wide around the corner to try and run them down.

She’s now passed the ballot to run which helps, but the issue is she’s down in the order of entry (officially 32nd at the time of writing) so faces some anxious times to get in now without another run although I have her at least at 28th with a few unlikely to go in.

Jockey Beau Mertens said: “Very happy with the run. We just had to swoop them coming around the turn, which we didn’t want to do but she still hit the line well.”

15. Harlem

Pre-race preview

A really interesting import who gave notice when romping home in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) when second-up. He then was more or less very disappointing in the Group 3 Bart Cummings (2500m) when he didn’t finish off. He drops a considerable 5kg to 51.5kg from that run and is a genuine lightweight chance.

I’m further influenced by the blinkers going on for the first time by trainers Hayes, Hayes and Dabernig, but drawing gate 1 might be tricky for jockey Chad Schofield.

Look, I’m prepared to forgive him in the Bart Cummings. A close look at the replays seemed to show he lost concentration for some reason – distractions or didn’t enjoy being hard ridden. Many others are seriously downgrading his chances from it, but with the blinkers on and the weight pull – including on Amelie’s Star by 2kg – means he’s in this. Looks like he prefers a firm surface too.

All in all, he’s one I’m including in everything.

Result: 8th

Again, some excuses but not excused. Didn’t run up to his level even when getting the firm surface. Faces a battle to get into the Melbourne Cup now.

Jockey Chad Schofield said: “It was a good honest run. I followed the winner everywhere and I was happy with the way he travelled. With that leader stopping so quickly, I had to change course quite abruptly but he was OK to the line.”

16. Amelie’s Star

Pre-race preview

She’s a lightweight hope for the Darren Weir stable, and finally put things together after warming up in her preparation to belt them in the Group 3 Bart Cummings (2500m). Craig Williams takes the ride after things went wrong with Admire Deus which is a boost. She’s also won twice at this distance.

She’s by no means home and hosed – no wins at the track in three starts, it’s just her second time at Group 1 level, and the draw looks bad for her as she’ll likely to be just worse than midfield, and needing some luck. If she gets it, she’s a big chance.

Amelie’s Star – Result: 11th

Didn’t get the luck from the draw, did work early to get forward, and then tired out late. Won’t be writing her off.

Jockey Craig Williams: “We had a really sticky barrier draw and the owners wanted to try and offset that barrier in a forward position. She had to do that and she was amazing but we had to use petrol to get there and it really told in the last 200m. It was a gallant effort under the circumstances.”

17. Lord Fandango

Pre-race preview

It’s been a big rise for Lord Fandango, who wasn’t taking names in BM 78 races at Bendigo and the ‘Bool when he first arrived as an import from England. But then he won the Benalla Cup and took them up in the Herbert Power Stakes to win by a length as a bit of a bolter.

He’s now arrived in the Caulfield Cup with a meteoric rise behind him and nothing on his back, carrying 50kgs.

There’s a little question mark on the back-up since the Caulfield Cup wasn’t his plan initially, and the Herbert Power has only seen Caulfield Cup winner from it in the past 47 years courtesy of the old Master O’Reilly in 2007. But he has that turn of foot which saw him win the Herbert Power and owners OTI Racing know what they’re doing. Track and distance are ticks and the draw was ok. I’d be surprised if he won but it’d be some story. Exotics for mine.

Result: 4th

He was super when caught wide, and added value to the exotics as suggested, and oh dear, oh dear – he’s not nominated for the Melbourne Cup? Owners OTI Racing apparently didn’t want to bottom him out this time around.

He’s a real stayer this bloke. He just rose too far too quick even for OTI Racing you’d think!

Just to cover off some other Cup chances that ran yesterday:

Assign was second-last in the Coongy and that doesn’t look too good for him.

Alward was second behind Destiny’s Kiss at Randwick on a heavy surface. While I’m not exactly keen on Sydney staying form, he keeps showing good signs but has to win something like the Lexus to make the field.

3 Replies to “2017 Caulfield Cup runner-by-runner review”

  1. Hi Tristan…. If Hartnell doesn’t run, will Almandin (and the final field) gain 0.5kgs to reach the 57kg topweight? Or with the modified rules will he stay on 56.5?

    1. Hi Dr! Here’s how it was worded:

      Racing Australia amended Australian Rule of Racing (AR) 103 (2) at its 14 September 2017 Board meeting to give Principal Racing Authorities (PRAs) flexibility as to whether they raise weights for Group 1 handicap races, if the highest weighted horse has less than 57kg at final acceptance time.

      The amendment to AR 103 (2) has been welcomed by the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) and Victoria Racing Club (VRC), who have requested that it be applied to the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups respectively with immediate effect.

      Based on that, I expect 56.5kgs to stick pretty firm.

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